The relationship between FDG uptake in PET scans and biological behavior in breast cancer

Breast Cancer. 2007;14(3):260-8. doi: 10.2325/jbcs.14.260.


Background: Positron emission tomography (PET) is a non-invasive imaging modality used in the diagnosis and staging of breast cancer. However, several factors can affect fluoro-deoxyglucose (FDG) uptake by a tumor. To clarify the parameters that most affect FDG accumulation in tumors, the relationship between standardized uptake values (SUVs) and clinicopathological factors and immunohistopathological analysis was investigated in breast cancer.

Material and methods: PET studies were performed preoperatively on 37 patients with breast carcinoma. SUVs were counted at one hour (early phase) and at two hours (delayed phase) after FDG injection. The relationships between SUVs and 13 clinical, pathological and immunohistchemical factors were studied.

Results: A significant association was found between FDG accumulation and early and delayed phase mitotic counts (p=0.0018 and 0.0010, respectively), Ki67 positive cell percentage (p=0.0098 and 0.0062, respectively), and nuclear grade (p=0.0232 and 0.0195, respectively). On the other hand, nodal status weakly correlated with the delayed phase (p=0.0907). However, other clinicopathological parameters and immunohistopathological status, which included tumor size, age, histology, estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and Her2/neu overexpression, did not correlate significantly with FDG uptake.

Conclusion: Mitotic count and Ki67 reflect cellular aggressiveness. These parameters were strongly correlated with tracer uptake. Thus our data suggested that the biological behavior of breast cancer is reflected in the variation of FDG uptake by the tumor. However, whether FDG uptake is a true prognostic and predictive factor remains to be confirmed in larger studies over an extended period of time.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Scirrhous / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenocarcinoma, Scirrhous / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma, Scirrhous / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / administration & dosage
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / pathology
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / administration & dosage
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Receptor, ErbB-2