Imaging bone metastases in breast cancer: staging and response assessment

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Bone metastases are common in patients with advanced breast cancer. Given the significant associated morbidity, the introduction of new, effective systemic therapies, and the improvement in survival time, early detection and response assessment of skeletal metastases have become even more important. Although planar bone scanning has recognized limitations, in particular, poor specificity in staging and response assessment, it continues to be the main method in current clinical practice for staging of the skeleton in patients at risk of bone metastases. However, the accuracy of bone scanning can be improved with the addition of SPECT/CT. There have been reported improvements in sensitivity and specificity for staging of the skeleton with either bone-specific PET/CT tracers, such as 18F-NaF, or tumor-specific tracers, such as 18F-FDG, although these methods are less widely available and more costly. There is a paucity of data on the use of 18F-NaF PET/CT for response assessment in breast cancer, but there is increasing evidence that 18F-FDG PET/CT may improve on current methods in this regard. At the same time, interest and experience in using whole-body morphologic MRI augmented with diffusion-weighted imaging for both staging and response assessment in the skeleton have been increasing. However, data on comparisons of these methods with PET methods to determine the best technique for current clinical practice or for clinical trials are insufficient. There are early data supporting the use 18F-FDG PET/MRI to assess malignant disease in the skeleton, with the possibility of taking advantage of the synergies offered by combining morphologic, physiologic, and metabolic imaging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27S-33S
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue numberSupplement 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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