Does F-18 FDG-PET/CT Have an Additional Impact on Axillary Approach in Early-Stage Breast Cancer?

Eur J Breast Health. 2023 Dec 27;20(1):45-51. doi: 10.4274/ejbh.galenos.2023.2023-10-6. eCollection 2024 Jan.


Objective: Breast cancer (BC) is a significant health concern and one of the most diagnosed cancers in women, both in Turkey and globally. Despite advances in the management of BC, axillary lymph node involvement remains a significant consideration for treatment planning, local recurrence, and prognosis. We aimed to evaluate the contribution of F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (F-18 FDG-PET/CT) in detecting axillary lymph node metastasis compared to ultrasound (US).

Materials and methods: Eighty patients who were diagnosed with stage I and II BC and underwent US and F-18 FDG-PET/CT scans before surgery were enrolled in this study. Those who did not undergo F-18 FDG-PET/CT imaging, patients with distant metastases at the time of diagnosis and patients with micrometastases in the axilla were excluded from the analysis. Imaging results of the status of axillary lymph nodes were verified with the final pathology report of axillary lymph nodes.

Results: The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of F-18 FDG-PET/CT for the detection of ipsilateral axillary lymph node metastases were 75%, 77.27%, 72.97%, 79.07%, and 76.25%. The corresponding values for US were 72.22%, 81.82%, 76.47%, 78.26%, and 77.50%, respectively. When US finding is negative or suspicious in axillary lymph node evaluation, the accuracy of F-18 FDG-PET/CT for the detection of ipsilateral axillary lymph node metastases were 65.38%, 83.33%, 70.83%, and 79.55%, respectively.

Conclusion: This study found that F-18 FDG-PET/CT does not provide an additional advantage over US in assessing the axilla in early-stage disease.

Keywords: Breast cancer; axillary staging; lymph node metastasis; positron emission tomography; ultrasound.