Blood flow and metabolism in locally advanced breast cancer: Relationship to response to therapy

David A. Mankoff, Lisa K. Dunnwald, Julie R. Gralow, Georgiana K. Ellis, Aaron Charlop, Thomas J. Lawton, Erin K. Schubert, Jeffrey Tseng, Robert B. Livingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) is commonly treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by definitive surgery. The factors influencing the response of LABC to presurgical chemotherapy are incompletely understood. To characterize in vivo tumor biology in patients with LABC, we measured pretherapy blood flow and glucose metabolism in LABC, compared measurements with clinical and pathologic parameters, and examined blood flow and response to subsequent neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Methods: Thirty-seven patients with newly diagnosed LABC underwent 18F-FDG and 15O-water PET imaging. Thirty-one of these patients underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and response was evaluated by serial measurements of tumor size and pathologic examination after definitive surgery after chemotherapy. Tumor metabolism was estimated from graphic analysis of dynamic 18F-FDG studies and was expressed as the metabolic rate of 18F-FDG (MRFDG). Blood flow was estimated from dynamic images after bolus 15O-water injection using a 1-compartment model. Tumor blood flow and metabolism were compared with clinical and pathologic parameters and with response to chemotherapy. Results: Both blood flow and metabolism were significantly higher in tumor than in normal breast. Tumor blood flow and metabolism were correlated but highly variable. There were weak associations of metabolism with patient age and tumor grade and of blood flow with estrogen receptor status. There was a statistically significant trend for patients with a high MRFDG to have a poorer response to therapy (P = 0.001). Response was not significantly correlated with any other parameters. A low ratio of MRFDG to blood flow was the best predictor of macroscopic complete response (CR) (P = 0.02 vs. non-CR). Preliminary analysis of patient follow-up showed the ratio of MRFDG to blood flow to also be predictive of disease-free survival. Conclusion: Despite uniformly large tumor size, blood flow and metabolism in LABC are highly variable. High glucose metabolism predicts a poor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and low MRFDG relative to blood flow is a predictor of CR. Further work is needed to elucidate the biologic mechanisms underlying these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-509
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • F-FDG
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • O-water
  • PET
  • Response to therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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