Breast cancer is the commonest female malignancy in the Western world and the most reliable predictor for survival is axillary lymph node metastases. Conventional staging techniques employed in breast cancer include mammography, ultrasonography, isotope bone scanning, sentinel lymph node biopsy, axillary lymph node dissection and magnetic resonance imaging. More recently FDG-PET and FDG-PET/CT have been used to complement the above methods. This review assesses the role of FDG-PET/CT in axillary staging in patients with primary breast cancer. A PubMed search was conducted and all articles containing relevant or new information were included. Relevant studies examined identified that FDG-PET/CT has a sensitivity of 60% and a specificity of 97% in detecting lymphatic metastasis. Although positive axillary FDG-PET/CT is a good predictor of axillary disease and correlates well with SLNB, the relatively poor sensitivity (60%) must be considered for treatment planning.
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