Axillary lymph node and distant metastases are unfavourable prognostic factors in breast cancer. The aim of our study was to evaluate the performance of PET-FDG in the staging of locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) and surgery, and to compare the findings of pretherapeutic PET to those of axillary nodal status obtained by surgery after NAC (Sataloff classification). This retrospective study involved 89 patients with LABC explored at presentation by PET in addition to conventional clinical and imaging staging (CS). Breast cancer excision and axillary dissection were performed after NAC. PET and CS found an axillary involvement in 58 patients (65%) and 39 patients (44%), respectively. Compared to the histology of post-NAC axillary dissection, PET had sensitivity and specificity of 80% and 63%, respectively. PET revealed an extra-axillary lymph node involvement, not suspected by the CS, in 25 patients (28%). Bone and lung metastases, not suspected by the CS were found in two and one patients, respectively. A case of false-positive PET in the liver was observed (adenomatosis). This study confirms the value of PET in the initial staging of LABC, especially in assessing extra-axillary nodal status. In the determination of axillary status, PET has a high positive predictive value, cases of doubtful interpretation suggesting to perform ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration in addition. © 2011 Elsevier Masson SAS.
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