(18) F-FDG PET/CT for initial staging in breast cancer patients - Is there a relevant impact on treatment planning compared to conventional staging modalities?
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of whole-body (18) F-FDG PET/CT on initial staging of breast cancer in comparison to conventional staging modalities. METHODS: This study included 102 breast cancer patients, 101 patients were eligible for evaluation. Preoperative whole-body staging with PET/CT was performed in patients with clinical stage ≥ T2 tumours or positive local lymph nodes (n = 91). Postoperative PET/CT was performed in patients without these criteria but positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (n = 10). All patients underwent PET/CT and a conventional staging algorithm, which included bone scan, chest X-ray and abdominal ultrasound. PET/CT findings were compared to conventional staging and the impact on therapeutic management was evaluated. RESULTS: PET/CT led to an upgrade of the N or M stage in overall 19 patients (19 %) and newly identified manifestation of breast cancer in two patients (2 %). PET/CT findings caused a change in treatment of 11 patients (11 %). This is within the range of recent studies, all applying conventional inclusion criteria based on the initial T and N status. CONCLUSIONS: PET/CT has a relevant impact on initial staging and treatment of breast cancer when compared to conventional modalities. Further studies should assess inclusion criteria beyond the conventional T and N status, e.g. tumour grading and receptor status. KEY POINTS: • PET/CT may be relevant in staging breast cancer patients at higher risk for metastases • PET/CT may modify the N and M stage in multiple patients • PET/CT may impact treatment planning in breast cancer patients.