Correlation of high 18F-FDG uptake to clinical, pathological and biological prognostic factors in breast cancer

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2011 Mar;38(3):426-35. doi: 10.1007/s00259-010-1640-9. Epub 2010 Nov 6.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the impact of the main clinicopathological and biological prognostic factors of breast cancer on (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake. Only women with tumours larger than 20 mm (T2-T4) were included in order to minimize bias of partial volume effect.

Methods: In this prospective study, 132 consecutive women received FDG PET/CT imaging before starting neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Maximum standardized uptake values (SUV(max)) were compared to tumour characteristics as assessed on core biopsy.

Results: There was no influence of T and N stage on SUV. Invasive ductal carcinoma showed higher SUV than lobular carcinoma. However, the highest uptake was found for metaplastic tumours, representing 5% of patients in this series. Several biological features usually considered as bad prognostic factors were associated with an increase in FDG uptake: the median of SUV(max) was 9.7 for grade 3 tumours vs 4.8 for the lower grades (p < 0.0001); negativity for oestrogen receptors (ER) was associated with higher SUV (ER+ SUV = 5.5; ER- SUV = 7.6; p = 0.003); triple-negative tumours (oestrogen and progesterone receptor negative, no overexpression of c-erbB-2) had an SUV of 9.2 vs 5.8 for all others (p = 0005); p53 mutated tumours also had significantly higher SUV (7.8 vs 5.0; p < 0.0001). Overexpression of c-erbB-2 had no effect on the SUV value.

Conclusion: Knowledge of the factors influencing uptake is important when interpreting FDG PET/CT scans. Also, findings that FDG uptake is highest in those patients with poor prognostic features (high grade, hormone receptor negativity, triple negativity, metaplastic tumours) is helpful to determine who are the best candidates for baseline staging.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biological Transport
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Tumor Burden
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18