Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 1991 Mar;3(2):65-72.

How far investigations for occult metastases in breast cancer aid the clinician.

Author information

  • 1Meyerstein Institute of Clinical Oncology, University College and Middlesex School of Medicine, London, UK.


This retrospective study aimed to assess the usefulness and clinical importance of current, commonly used, diagnostic staging procedures in breast cancer. The analysis comprises all 398 women clinically staged I-III (UICC criteria), and irradiated with radical intent in the Professorial Unit of Radiotherapy at the Middlesex Hospital over a ten-year period (1978-1987). The routine initial screening in this institution included the following staging investigations within 4 weeks of referral: 99mTc MDP bone scan; chest X-ray; liver function tests (including serum alkaline phosphatase) and liver ultrasound scan. Further enquiry and examination of the patient, clear progression of disease, additional radiographs or a recommended repeat interval scan provided sufficient additional information to confirm metastatic disease. The overall rate of detection of metastatic disease at three months was 29/389 (7.4%) for skeletal scintigraphy, 10/386 (2.6%) for chest radiographs, 8/271 (2.9%) for liver ultrasound and 3/347 (0.8%) for serum alkaline phosphatase. In total 37/398 (9.3%) of patients were confirmed to have metastatic disease by three months. Skeletal scintigraphy alone appears to identify 78% (29/37) of those with detectable metastatic disease at 3 months. Skeletal scintigraphy and liver ultrasound will identify 95% (35/37).

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk