Breast cancer imaging with radiolabeled antibodies

Semin Nucl Med. 1999 Jan;29(1):41-8. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(99)80028-2.


Over the past 2 decades, numerous anticancer antibodies against different molecular targets and labeled with different gamma-emitting radionuclides have been studied in human tumor xenografts and in clinical trials. In breast cancer, these molecular targets have included principally tumor-associated antigens, such as carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and the polymorphic epithelial mucin antigen, MUC1, and more recently the growth factor receptors, EGF-R and HER-2/neu. No antibody-based agent has yet been approved for clinical use in the diagnosis of mammary carcinoma, because few trials have addressed the issue of clinical use of these imaging agents in the management of breast cancer patients. Recently, the CEA antibody Fab' fragment approved for colorectal cancer detection, Arcitumomab (CEA-Scan, [Immunomedics, Morris Plains, NJ]), has been found to image both palpable and nonpalpable breast lesions that were suspicious on screening mammograms. Results to date indicate that Arcitumomab can complement mammography by providing a high specificity and positive predictive value, thus indicating when a patient with an abnormal mammogram may proceed directly to definitive surgery without an intermediate diagnostic biopsy. Breast cancer immunoscintigraphy holds promise for advancing toward immunoPET, which should combine the specificity of antibodies with the high sensitivity and resolution of PET. It is also the foundation of breast cancer radioimmunotherapy with humanized antibodies against CEA and MUC1, as well as other immunotherapy strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal*
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radioimmunodetection / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • technetium Tc-99m arcitumomab