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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Jun 20;24(18):2793-9. Epub 2006 May 8.

Quantitative fluoroestradiol positron emission tomography imaging predicts response to endocrine treatment in breast cancer.

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Division of Medical Oncology, University of Washington, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.



In breast cancer, [(18)F]fluoroestradiol (FES) positron emission tomography (PET) correlates with estrogen receptors (ER) expression and predicts response to tamoxifen. We tested the ability of FES-PET imaging to predict response to salvage hormonal treatment in heavily pretreated metastatic breast cancer patients, predominantly treated with aromatase inhibitors.


Initial FES uptake measurements in 47 patients with ER-positive tumors were correlated with subsequent tumor response to 6 months of hormonal treatment. Most patients had bone dominant disease and prior tamoxifen exposure. Response was compared to initial FES-PET uptake, measured qualitatively and quantitatively using standardized uptake value (SUV) and estradiol-binding flux.


Eleven of 47 patients (23%) had an objective response. While no patients with absent FES uptake had a response to treatment, the association between qualitative FES-PET results and response was not significant (P = .14). However, quantitative FES uptake and response were significantly associated; zero of 15 patients with initial SUV less than 1.5 responded to hormonal therapy, compared with 11 of 32 patients (34%) with SUV higher than 1.5 (P < .01). In the subset of patients whose tumors did not overexpress HER2/neu, 11 of 24 patients (46%) with SUV higher than 1.5 responded.


Quantitative FES-PET can predict response to hormonal therapy and may help guide treatment selection. Treatment selection using quantitative FES-PET in our patient series would have increased the rate of response from 23% to 34% overall, and from 29% to 46% in the subset of patients lacking HER2/neu overexpression. A multi-institutional collaborative trial would permit definitive assessment of the value of FES-PET for therapeutic decision making.

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