, Volume 21, Issue 8, pp 429-437
Date: 25 Oct 2007

Predictive value of bone marrow accumulation of Tc-99m tetrofosmin for subsequent development of distant metastases in breast cancer

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We evaluated the predictive value of bone marrow accumulation of technetium (Tc)-99m tetrofosmin in patients with breast cancer for distant metastases in comparison with conventional prognostic factors such as clinical stage, tumor size, axillary lymph node (Node) status, and estrogen receptor (ER) status.


Bone marrow scans with Tc-99m tetrofosmin were performed on 64 patients with breast cancer who had no clinical evidence of distant metastases. Accumulation in the femoral marrow was classified into four patterns, no detectable, lower, higher, and intensively higher. Higher or intensively higher pattern was interpreted as abnormal. Thirty-six patients with abnormal accumulation (marrow-positive group) and 28 patients without abnormal accumulation (marrow-negative group) were enrolled in the follow-up study. The mean length of observation after scans was approximately 3 years. The predictive value of femoral marrow status and conventional prognostic factors for distant metastases was evaluated by statistical analysis.


Univariate analysis showed a significantly higher incidence of subsequent bone metastases (36% > 4%; P < 0.005), and distant metastases (69% > 18%; P < 0.001) in the marrow-positive group when compared with the marrow-negative group. Conventional prognostic factors except tumor size were also significantly associated with the development of distant metastases; 77% in clinical stage 3 > 39% in clinical stages 1, 2, P < 0.05; 64% in Node-positive >29% in Node-negative, P < 0.01; and 70% in ER negative >27% in ER positive, P < 0.005. These conventional factors were not significantly associated with bone metastases. The Cox proportional hazard ratio for bone metastases was markedly higher in femoral marrow status (hazard ratio = 11.07). The distant metastases-free survival was significantly reduced in ER negative (P < 0.0005), Node-positive (P = 0.0215), and clinical stage 3 patients (P = 0.0163). On the other hand, a more marked difference was observed in the femoral marrow status (P < 0.0001). The hazard ratio for distant metastases was 2.44 in clinical stage, 2.74 in tumor size, 2.74 in Node, and 3.68 in ER, which were each independent prognostic factors associated with distant metastases. However, femoral marrow status was markedly associated with distant metastases (hazard ratio = 5.27).


Bone marrow accumulation of Tc-99m tetrofosmin can be a promising prognostic factor independent of conventional prognostic factors for predicting development of not only bone metastases but also distant metastases in breast cancer.