Positron emission tomography (PET) is a computer-aided tomographic imaging technique that uses positron-emitting compounds to trace biochemical processes of tissue, and construct images based on them. The authors applied a whole-body PET imaging technique to patients with breast masses or mammographic abnormalities using the isotope 2-[F-18]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG), in a clinical trial to evaluate the feasibility of using PET to identify primary breast cancer, axillary lymph node involvement, and systemic metastases, before surgical resection. Fourteen patients have been entered on this study, 10 of whom proved to have breast cancer. Positron emission tomography correctly predicted the nature of 12 of the 14 primary breast lesions, and correctly determined the lymph node status of 11 of the 14 patients. The authors conclude that PET with FDG has potential as a diagnostic modality for detection of primary breast cancer, particularly in the patient with radiodense breasts by conventional mammography, and that it has potential for the preoperative identification of axillary lymph node metastases.