Objective: The usefulness of 2-deoxy-2-[F-18]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) in monitoring breast cancer response to chemotherapy has previously been reported. Elevated uptake of FDG by treated tumors can persist however, particularly in the early period after treatment is initiated. 3'-[F-18]Fluoro-3'-deoxythymidine (FLT) has been developed as a marker for cellular proliferation and, in principle, could be a more accurate predictor of the long-term effect of chemotherapy on tumor viability. We examined side-by-side FDG and FLT imaging for monitoring and predicting tumor response to chemotherapy.
Methods: Fourteen patients with newly diagnosed primary or metastatic breast cancer, who were about to commence a new pharmacologic treatment regimen, were prospectively studied. Dynamic 3-D PET imaging of uptake into a field of view centered over tumor began immediately after administration of FDG or FLT (150 MBq). After 45 minutes of dynamic acquisition, a clinically standard whole-body PET scan was acquired. Patients were scanned with both tracers on two separate days within one week of each other (1) before beginning treatment, (2) two weeks following the end of the first cycle of the new regimen, and (3) following the final cycle of that regimen, or one year after the initial PET scans, whichever came first. (Median and mean times of early scans were 5.0 and 6.6 weeks after treatment initiation; median and mean times for late scans were 26.0 and 30.6 weeks after treatment initiation.) Scan data were analyzed on both tumor-by-tumor and patient-by-patient bases, and compared to each patient's clinical course.
Results: Mean change in FLT uptake in primary and metastatic tumors after the first course of chemotherapy showed a significant correlation with late (av. interval 5.8 months) changes in CA27.29 tumor marker levels (r = 0.79, P = 0.001). When comparing changes in tracer uptake after one chemotherapy course versus late changes in tumor size as measured by CT scans, FLT was again a good predictor of eventual tumor response (r = 0.74, P = 0.01). Tumor uptake of FLT was near-maximal by 10 minutes after injection. The time frame five to 10 minutes postinjection of FLT produced standardized uptake value (SUV) values highly correlated with SUV values obtained after 45-minute uptake (r = 0.83, P < 0.0001), and changes in these early SUVs after the first course of chemotherapy correlated with late changes in CA27.29 (r = 0.93, P = 0.003).
Conclusion: A 10-minute FLT-PET scan acquired two weeks after the end of the first course of chemotherapy is useful for predicting longer-term efficacy of chemotherapy regimens for women with breast cancer.