Comparison between positron emission tomography using 2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose, conventional imaging and computed tomography for staging of breast cancer

Ann Oncol. 2008 Jul;19(7):1249-1254. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdn057. Epub 2008 Mar 19.


Background: The presence, extent and localization of distant metastases are key prognostic factors in breast cancer patients and play a central role in therapeutic decision making. The aim of this study was to compare the diagnostic performance of positron emission tomography using 2-[fluorine-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG-PET) with that of computed tomography (CT) and conventional imaging including chest radiography, abdominal ultrasound and bone scintigraphy.

Patients and methods: A total of 119 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed locally advanced disease (n = 69) or previous history of breast cancer (n = 50) who had clinical suspicion of metastatic disease underwent FDG-PET, CT and conventional imaging procedures. Imaging results were retrospectively compared with histopathology and clinical follow-up which served as a reference standard.

Results: FDG-PET detected distant metastases with a sensitivity of 87% and a specificity of 83%. In contrast, the sensitivity and specificity of combined conventional imaging procedures were 43% and 98%, respectively. CT revealed a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 85%.

Conclusions: In breast cancer, FDG-PET is superior to conventional imaging procedures for detection of distant metastases. Although FDG-PET and CT provided similar diagnostic accuracy, the information was often found to be complementary. With increasing availability of FDG-PET/CT, prospective studies are needed to determine whether it could potentially replace the array of conventional imaging procedures used today.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods*


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18