Date: 03 May 2013

18F-FDG PET/CT imaging versus dynamic contrast-enhanced CT for staging and prognosis of inflammatory breast cancer

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Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is the most aggressive type of breast cancer with a poor prognosis. Locoregional staging is based on dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) CT or MRI. The aim of this study was to compare the performances of FDG PET/CT and DCE CT in locoregional staging of IBC and to assess their respective prognostic values.


The study group comprised 50 women (median age: 51 ± 11 years) followed in our institution for IBC who underwent FDG PET/CT and DCE CT scans (median interval 5 ± 9 days). CT enhancement parameters were net maximal enhancement, net early enhancement and perfusion.


The PET/CT scans showed intense FDG uptake in all primary tumours. Concordance rate between PET/CT and DCE CT for breast tumour localization was 92 %. No significant correlation was found between SUVmax and CT enhancement parameters in primary tumours (p > 0.6). PET/CT and DCE CT results were poorly correlated for skin infiltration (kappa = 0.19). Ipsilateral foci of increased axillary FDG uptake were found in 47 patients (median SUV: 7.9 ± 5.4), whereas enlarged axillary lymph nodes were observed on DCE CT in 43 patients. Results for axillary node involvement were fairly well correlated (kappa = 0.55). Nineteen patients (38 %) were found to be metastatic on PET/CT scan with a significant shorter progression-free survival than patients without distant lesions (p = 0.01). In the primary tumour, no statistically significant difference was observed between high and moderate tumour FDG uptake on survival, using an SUVmax cut-off of 5 (p = 0.7 and 0.9), or between high and low tumour enhancement on DCE CT (p > 0.8).


FDG PET/CT imaging provided additional information concerning locoregional involvement to that provided by DCE CT on and allowed detection of distant metastases in the same whole-body procedure. Tumour FDG uptake or CT enhancement parameters were not correlated and were not found to have any prognostic value.