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J Clin Oncol. 1998 Oct;16(10):3375-9.

Detection of bone metastases in breast cancer by 18FDG PET: differing metabolic activity in osteoblastic and osteolytic lesions.

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  • 1Clinical Positron Emission Tomography Centre and Department of Oncology, Guys Hospital, United Medical and Dental Schools, London, United Kingdom.



99mTechnetium methylene diphosphonate (99mTc MDP) bone scintigraphy is currently the method of choice for the detection of bone metastases, but 18F-fluoro-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography (18FDG PET) offers superior spatial resolution and improved sensitivity. We have compared 18FDG PET with 99mTc MDP bone scintigraphy in patients with skeletal metastases from breast cancer and have analyzed the data in subgroups based on radiographic characteristics of lesions.


Twenty-three women with breast cancer and confirmed bone metastases were studied with both 99mTC MDP bone scintigraphy and 18FDG PET, and the number of lesions detected and the quantitation of uptake (standardized uptake values [SUVs]) of 18FDG in osteolytic and osteoblastic metastases were compared. Survival was compared for both lytic and blastic bone metastases and for patients with high and low accumulation of 18FDG.


18FDG PET detected more lesions than 99mTc MDP scintigraphy (mean, 14.1 and 7.8 lesions, respectively; P < .01). However, 18FDG detected fewer bone metastases compared with 99mTc MDP scintigraphy in a subgroup of patients with osteoblastic disease (P < .05). Higher SUVs were observed for osteolytic than osteoblastic disease (mean, 6.77 and 0.95, respectively; P < .01). Survival was lower in patients with osteolytic disease compared with the remainder (P=.01). A difference in survival was not found for those patients with high SUVs (> 3.6; P=.4).


18FDG PET is superior to bone scintigraphy in the detection of osteolytic breast cancer metastases, which led to a poorer prognosis. In contrast, osteoblastic metastases show lower metabolic activity and are frequently undetectable by PET. The biologic explanation for this observation remains to be elucidated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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