Objective: The use of computed tomography (CT) with regards to the clinical staging of breast cancer (BC) patients has been on the increase in clinical practice. However, NCCN guidelines recommended the use of imaginng only in cases with locally advanced disease or signs of distant metastases (DM), and the benefits of routine CT have yet to be fully clarified. This study investigated the value of employing contrast-enhanced CT (CECT) to screen for DM in patients with asymptomatic BC.

Methods: The clinical records of 483 patients with asymptomatic BC who underwent CECT, also in order to detect BC spread, between April 2006 and January 2011 were reviewed. The CECT results were classified into normal, true-positive (metastases) or false-positive findings.

Results: Abnormal CECT findings, including true- and false-positive results, were detected in 65 patients (13.5%). Of these, 26 patients (5.4%) showed confirmed true metastatic disease, including 18 lung metastases, 11 liver metastases and 13 bone metastases. Upstaging to stage IV due to the results of the CECT was significantly associated with only larger tumos size (odds ratio, 33.4; 95% CI 12.1–92.5; P < 0.0001) and lymph node status (odds ratio, 37.1; 95% CI 14.2–96.8; P < 0.0001.)

Upstaging to stage IV occurred in 0 of 155 patients at stage I, 5 of 261 patients (1.9%) at stage II and 21 of 67 patients (31.3%) at stage III.

Conclusions: Routine CECT did not appear to be useful for detecting DM in completely asymptomatic patients. Conversely, a small number of patients were upstaged from early to stage IV and a predictive factor beyond T and N stage alone appears to be needed in order to predict which asymptomatic patients have DM.

Citation Information: Cancer Res 2012;72(24 Suppl):Abstract nr P3-02-02.