Positron emission tomography in diagnosis and management of invasive breast cancer: current status and future perspectives

Clin Breast Cancer. 2003 Apr;4 Suppl 1:S55-63. doi: 10.3816/cbc.2003.s.016.


[18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) is a metabolic imaging modality that has increasing applications in oncology, neurology, and cardiology. Among the oncology applications, breast cancer is one of the most extensively studied diseases. FDG-PET has been performed for diagnosis, staging, and restaging of invasive breast cancer and for monitoring responsiveness to therapies. At the present time, the results of FDG-PET in detection of primary breast cancer and axillary staging are mixed and inconclusive. However, results demonstrating the superiority of FDG-PET over anatomic imaging modalities in detection of distant metastasis, recurrence, and monitoring therapies are relatively well documented. These applications have been accepted by medical professionals and the public, as evidenced by a recent decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly Health Care Financing Agency) to provide coverage for the procedure. Future trends in this exciting area include development of novel breast cancer-specific PET radiopharmaceuticals and use of dedicated breast PET technologies for scans of breast/axillary lesions. PET/computed tomography technology, which combines anatomic and molecular/biochemical information, is also rapidly proliferating and should help to further improve the management of patients with breast cancer. The role of FDG-PET in breast cancer is increasing and evolving, and this metabolic imaging modality, in conjunction with newer tracers and other anatomic imaging methods, should improve diagnosis and management of patients with breast cancer

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prognosis
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods
  • United States


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18