Brown fat in breast cancer patients: analysis of serial (18)F-FDG PET/CT scans

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2006 Jul;33(7):785-91. doi: 10.1007/s00259-006-0066-x. Epub 2006 Apr 5.


Purpose: It has recently been suggested that FDG accumulation in the brown adipose tissue varies as a function of age, sex and outdoor temperature. The aim of this study was to assess changes in FDG uptake in brown fat in patients based on serial PET/CT scans and to compare our results with previous findings.

Methods: Early response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in 33 female breast cancer patients was assessed by FDG PET. Five PET/CT scans were performed for each patient. PET/CT images were analysed retrospectively. PET scans were considered positive when diffuse, symmetrical, abnormal "USA" (uptake in supraclavicular area) fat was detected.

Results: A total of 163 PET images were analysed. Seventy-four PET scans (45%) revealed abnormal FDG uptake in the supraclavicular area. These foci were present on uncorrected and attenuation-corrected images. FDG uptake was identical on all five scans in only five patients. No significant relationship was found between abnormal FDG uptake and outdoor temperature, age or time interval between chemotherapy and PET. Abnormal FDG uptake in the neck seemed to predominantly occur in patients with a low body mass index (p<0.05). Most significant changes in the PET/CT scan results were observed during chemotherapy with docetaxel (p<0.05). When observed, bilateral uptake in the neck was more intense than background uptake (p<0.00001).

Conclusion: This study shows that FDG uptake in the neck varies as a function of time, that it is unrelated to age or outdoor temperature, and that bilateral uptake is generally intense.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18