A systematic review of positron emission tomography (PET) and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for the diagnosis of breast cancer recurrence

West Midlands Health Technology Assessment Collaboration, Unit of Public Health, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.
Health technology assessment (Winchester, England) 10/2010; 14(50):1-103. DOI: 10.3310/hta14500
Source: PubMed


Breast cancer (BC) accounts for one-third of all cases of cancer in women in the UK. Current strategies for the detection of BC recurrence include computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and bone scintigraphy. Positron emission tomography (PET) and, more recently, positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) are technologies that have been shown to have increasing relevance in the detection and management of BC recurrence.
To review the accuracy of PET and PET/CT for the diagnosis of BC recurrence by assessing their value compared with current practice and compared with each other.
MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched from inception to May 2009.
Studies were included if investigations used PET or PET/CT to diagnose BC recurrence in patients with a history of BC and if the reference standard used to define the true disease status was histological diagnosis and/or long-term clinical follow-up. Studies were excluded if a non-standard PET or PET/CT technology was used, investigations were conducted for screening or staging of primary breast cancer, there was an inadequate or undefined reference standard, or raw data for calculation of diagnostic accuracy were not available. STUDY APPRAISAL: Quality assessment and data extraction were performed independently by two reviewers. Direct and indirect comparisons were made between PET and PET/CT and between these technologies and methods of conventional imaging, and meta-analyses were carried out. Analysis was conducted separately on patient- and lesion-based data. Subgroup analysis was conducted to investigate variation in the accuracy of PET in certain populations or contexts and sensitivity analysis was conducted to examine the reliability of the primary outcome measures.
Of the 28 studies included in the review, 25 presented patient-based data and 7 presented lesion-based data for PET and 5 presented patient-based data and 1 presented patient- and lesion-based data for PET/CT; 16 studies conducted direct comparisons with 12 comparing the accuracy of PET or PET/CT with conventional diagnostic tests and 4 with MRI. For patient-based data (direct comparison) PET had significantly higher sensitivity [89%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 83% to 93% vs 79%, 95% CI 72% to 85%, relative sensitivity 1.12, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.21, p = 0.005] and significantly higher specificity (93%, 95% CI 83% to 97% vs 83%, 95% CI 67% to 92%, relative specificity 1.12, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.24, p = 0.036) compared with conventional imaging tests (CITs)--test performance did not appear to vary according to the type of CIT tested. For patient-based data (direct comparison) PET/CT had significantly higher sensitivity compared with CT (95%, 95% CI 88% to 98% vs 80%, 95% CI 65% to 90%, relative sensitivity 1.19, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.37, p = 0.015), but the increase in specificity was not significant (89%, 95% CI 69% to 97% vs 77%, 95% CI 50% to 92%, relative specificity 1.15, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.41, p = 0.157). For patient-based data (direct comparison) PET/CT had significantly higher sensitivity compared with PET (96%, 95% CI 90% to 98% vs 85%, 95% CI 77% to 91%, relative sensitivity 1.11, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.18, p = 0.006), but the increase in specificity was not significant (89%, 95% CI 74% to 96% vs 82%, 95% CI 64% to 92%, relative specificity 1.08, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.20, p = 0.267). For patient-based data there were no significant differences in the sensitivity or specificity of PET when compared with MRI, and, in the one lesion based study, there was no significant differences in the sensitivity or specificity of PET/CT when compared with MRI.
Studies reviewed were generally small and retrospective and this may have limited the generalisability of findings. Subgroup analysis was conducted on the whole set of studies investigating PET and was not restricted to comparative studies. Conventional imaging studies that were not compared with PET or PET/CT were excluded from the review.
Available evidence suggests that for the detection of BC recurrence PET, in addition to conventional imaging techniques, may generally offer improved diagnostic accuracy compared with current standard practice. However, uncertainty remains around its use as a replacement for, rather than an add-on to, existing imaging technologies. In addition, PET/CT appeared to show clear advantage over CT and PET alone for the diagnosis of BC recurrence. FUTURE WORK: Future research should include: prospective studies with patient populations clearly defined with regard to their clinical presentation; a study of diagnostic accuracy of PET/CT compared with conventional imaging techniques; a study of PET/CT compared with whole-body MRI; studies investigating the possibility of using PET/CT as a replacement for rather than an addition to CITs; and using modelling of the impact of PET/CT on patient outcomes to inform the possibility of conducting large-scale intervention trials.

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Available from: Lazaros Andronis, Jul 13, 2015
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    • "FDG-PET scan is one of the optional imaging modalities that can be used to evaluate metastatic disease in cancer patients. Unfortunately, however, limited studies support a potential role for FDG-PET/CT to detect regional node involvement, as well as distant metastasis in locally advanced breast cancer [3]. With regard to high metabolic activity on FDG-PET scans in many nonmalignant conditions with active granuloma formation, such as sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, nontuberculous mycobacterium, and fungal infections, the consensus of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Panel is that FDG-PET/CT is optional, which is applied to situations where standard staging studies are equivocal or suspicious, especially in the setting of locally advanced or metastatic disease [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Standard endocrine therapy and chemotherapy can induce long-term remission in breast cancer patients; however, breast cancer can recur at any site. Pulmonary nodules with lymphadenopathy in advanced cancer patients are likely to be assumed as metastases. A 44-year-old woman with a history of breast cancer was presented to our institution with abnormal findings on 18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography imaging, which suggested lung metastasis. She had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer (T1N2M0, Stage IIIa, intraductal carcinoma, triple negative cancer). Histological analysis of the mediastinal lymph node biopsy demonstrated sarcoidosis, showing a chronic, non-caseating, granulomatous inflammation. Our case highlights the need for non-malignant diagnoses in those with prior malignancies, and the need for histological evaluations in the event of first recurrence following potentially curative therapy.
    Cancer Research and Treatment 07/2014; 46(3):317-321. DOI:10.4143/crt.2014.46.3.317 · 3.32 Impact Factor
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    • "For many tumors, PET achieves greater sensitivity and specificity than conventional imaging with regard to the detection of recurrent or metastatic disease [5]. Although the efficacy of PET for breast cancer differs among studies, meta-analysis and systemic review for the usefulness of PET in patients with breast cancer revealed good sensitivity (89-93%) and specificity (82-95%) for PET in detecting nodal or distant metastases [12,13]. The sensitivity and specificity of PET were significantly superior to those of CT. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose A newly isolated mediastinal lymph node (LN) or a small pulmonary nodule, which appears during breast cancer surveillance, may pose a diagnostic dilemma with regard to malignancy. We conducted this study to determine which clinical factors were useful for the differentiation of malignant lesions from benign lesions under these circumstances. Materials and Methods We enrolled breast cancer patients who were presented with a new isolated mediastinal LN or small pulmonary nodule that arose during surveillance, and whose lesions were pathologically confirmed. Tissue diagnosis was made by mediastinoscopy, video-assisted thoracic surgery or thoracotomy. Results A total of 43 patients were enrolled (mediastinal LN, 13 patients; pulmonary nodule, 30 patients). Eighteen patients (41.9%) were pathologically confirmed to have a benign lesion (benign group), and 25 patients (58.1%) were confirmed to have malignant lesion (malignant group). Between the two groups, the initial tumor size (p=0.096) and N stage (p=0.749) were similar. Hormone receptor negativity was more prevalent in the malignant group (59.1% vs. 40.9%, p=0.048). The mean lesion size was larger in the malignant group than in the benign group (20.8 mm vs. 14.4 mm, p=0.024). Metastatic lesions had a significantly higher value of maximal standardized uptake (mSUV) than that of benign lesions (6.4 vs. 3.4, p=0.021). Conclusion Hormone receptor status, lesion size, and mSUV on positron emission tomography are helpful in the differentiation of malignant lesions from benign lesions in breast cancer patients who were presented with a new isolated mediastinal LN or small pulmonary nodule during surveillance.
    Cancer Research and Treatment 07/2014; 46(3):280-287. DOI:10.4143/crt.2014.46.3.280 · 3.32 Impact Factor
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    • "Additionally, the Dutch guideline recommends the use of FDG-PET/CT when local, regional or distant recurrence is suspected [5]. An extensive systematic review by Pennant et al. showed a significantly higher sensitivity and specificity for locoregional recurrence than conventional imaging, as well as a higher sensitivity in comparison with CT [9]. This suggests an improved accuracy in detecting locoregional recurrence when FDG-PET/ CT is added to conventional imaging, also in stage II breast cancer. "
    Advances in Molecular Imaging 06/2014; 4(4):35-41. DOI:10.4236/ami.2014.43005
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