18F-FDG PET/CT provides powerful prognostic stratification in the primary staging of large breast cancer when compared with conventional explorations
The objective of this study was to assess the impact on management and the prognostic value of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/CT for initial staging of newly diagnosed large breast cancer (BC) when compared with conventional staging.
We prospectively included 142 patients with newly diagnosed BC and at least grade T2 tumour. All patients were evaluated with complete conventional imaging (CI) procedures (mammogram and/or breast ultrasound, bone scan, abdominal ultrasound and/or CT, X-rays and/or CT of the chest), followed by FDG PET/CT exploration, prior to treatment. The treatment plan based on CI staging was compared with that based on PET/CT findings. CI and PET/CT findings were confirmed by imaging and clinical follow-up and/or pathology when assessable. Progression-free survival (PFS) was analysed using the Cox proportional hazards regression model.
According to CI staging, 79 patients (56 %) were stage II, 46 (32 %) stage III and 17 (12 %) stage IV (distant metastases). Of the patients, 30 (21 %) were upstaged by PET/CT, including 12 (8 %) from stage II or III to stage IV. On the other hand, 23 patients (16 %) were downstaged by PET/CT, including 4 (3 %) from stage IV to stage II or III. PET/CT had a high or medium impact on management planning for 18 patients (13 %). Median follow-up was 30 months (range 9–59 months); 37 patients (26 %) experienced recurrence or progression of disease during follow-up and 17 patients (12 %) died. The Cox model indicated that CI staging was significantly associated with PFS (p = 0.01), but PET/CT staging provided stronger prognostic stratification (p < 0.0001). Moreover, Cox regression multivariate analysis showed that only PET/CT staging remained associated with PFS (p < 0.0001).
FDG PET/CT provides staging information that more accurately stratifies prognostic risk in newly diagnosed large BC when compared with conventional explorations alone.
KeywordsBreast cancer FDG PET/CT Primary staging Prognosis
This study is part of the Pharmimage project. The authors thank Paul M. Walker for his help in the revision of the manuscript.
Conflicts of interest
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