Purpose: The objective of this study was to evaluate, in the luminal human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer subtype, the prognostic value of tumour glucose metabolism at baseline and of its early changes during neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC).
Methods: This prospective study included 61 women with hormone-sensitive HER2-negative breast cancer treated with NAC. (18)F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) was performed at baseline. Hepatic activity was used as a reference to distinguish between low metabolic and hypermetabolic tumours. In hypermetabolic tumours, a PET exam was repeated after the first course of NAC. The relative change in the maximum standardized uptake value of the tumour (∆SUV) was calculated.
Results: Nineteen women had low metabolic luminal breast cancers at baseline, correlated with low proliferation indexes. Forty-two women had hypermetabolic tumours, corresponding to more proliferative breast cancers with higher Ki-67 expression (p = 0.017) and higher grade (p = 0.04). The median follow-up period was 64.2 months (range 11.5-93.2). Thirteen women developed recurrent disease, nine of whom died. Worse overall survival was associated with larger tumour size [>5 cm, hazard ratio (HR) = 6.52, p = 0.009] and with hypermetabolic tumours achieving a low metabolic response after one cycle of NAC (ΔSUV < 16%, HR = 10.63, p = 0.004). Five-year overall survival in these poor responder patients was 49.2%. Overall survival in women with low metabolic tumours or hypermetabolic/good response tumours was 100 and 96.15%, respectively.
Conclusion: In luminal HER2-negative breast tumours, tumour metabolism at baseline and changes after the first course of NAC are early surrogate markers of patients' survival. A subgroup of women with hypermetabolic/poorly responding tumours, correlated with poor prognosis at 5 years, can be identified early. These results may guide future studies by tailoring the NAC regimen to the metabolic response.