Comprehensive imaging of tumor recurrence in breast cancer patients using whole-body MRI at 1.5 and 3 T compared to FDG-PET-CT

Gerwin P Schmidt, Andrea Baur-Melnyk, Alexander Haug, Volker Heinemann, Ingo Bauerfeind, Maximilian F Reiser, Stefan O Schoenberg
European Journal of Radiology 2008, 65 (1): 47-58

PURPOSE: To compare the diagnostic accuracy for the detection of tumor recurrence in breast cancer patients using whole-body-MRI (WB-MRI) at 1.5 or 3T compared to FDG-PET-CT.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty-three female patients with breast cancer and suspicion of recurrence underwent FDG-PET-CT and WB-MRI. Coronal T1w-TSE- and STIR-sequences, HASTE-imaging of the lungs, contrast-enhanced T1w- and T2w-TSE-sequences of the liver, brain and abdomen were performed, using a WB-MRI-scanner at 1.5 (n=23) or 3T (n=10). Presence of local recurrence, lymph node involvement and distant metastatic disease was assessed using clinical and radiological follow-up as a standard of reference.

RESULTS: Tumor recurrence was found in 20 of 33 patients. Overall 186 malignant foci were detected with WB-MRI and PET-CT. Both modalities revealed two recurrent tumors of the breast. PET-CT detected more lymph node metastases (n=21) than WB-MRI (n=16). WB-MRI was more precise in the detection of distant metastases (n=154 versus n=147). Sensitivity was 93% (172/186) and 91% (170/186) for WB-MRI and PET-CT, specificity was 86% (66/77) and 90% (69/77), respectively. Examination times for WB-MRI at 1.5 and 3T were 51 and 43 min, respectively, examination time for PET-CT was 103 min.

CONCLUSION: WB-MRI and PET-CT are useful for the detection of tumor recurrence in the follow-up of breast cancer. WB-MRI is highly sensitive to distant metastatic disease. PET-CT is more sensitive in detecting lymph node involvement. Tumor screening with WB-MRI is feasible at 1.5 and 3T, scan time is further reduced at 3T with identical resolution.

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