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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Jul 1;71(3):695-704. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.02.056. Epub 2008 Apr 23.

Effect of (18)F-FDG PET/CT imaging in patients with clinical Stage II and III breast cancer.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, Breast Diseases Unit, Saint Louis Hospital, Paris, France.



To investigate the potential effect of using (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) in the initial assessment of patients with clinical Stage II or III breast cancer.


During 14 consecutive months, 39 patients (40 tumors) who presented with Stage II or III breast cancer on the basis of a routine extension assessment were prospectively included in this study. PET/CT was performed in addition to the initial assessment.


In 3 cases, PET/CT showed extra-axillary lymph node involvement that had not been demonstrated with conventional techniques. Two of these patients had hypermetabolic lymph nodes in the subpectoral and infraclavicular regions, and the third had a hypermetabolic internal mammary node. PET/CT showed distant uptake in 4 women. Of these 4 women, 1 had pleural involvement and 3 had bone metastasis. Overall, of the 39 women, the PET/CT results modified the initial stage in 7 (18%). The modified staging altered the treatment plan for 5 patients (13%). It led to radiotherapy in 4 patients (bone metastasis, pleural lesion, subpectoral lymph nodes, and internal mammary nodes) and excision of, and radiotherapy to, the infraclavicular lymph nodes in 1 patient.


PET/CT can provide information on extra-axillary lymph node involvement and can uncover occult distant metastases in a significant percentage of patients. Therefore, initial PET/CT could enable better treatment planning for patients with Stage II and III breast cancer.

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