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BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect on the number of performed biopsies and costs associated with implementing positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (PET/CT) with 16α-[(18)F]fluoro-17β-oestradiol (FES) or 2-[(18)F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) as an upfront imaging test for diagnosing metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in comparison with the standard work-up in oestrogen receptor-positive women with symptoms. METHODS: A published computer simulation model was adapted and validated. Three follow-up strategies were evaluated in a simulated cohort of women with primary breast cancer over a 5-year-time horizon: (1) the standard work-up, (2) upfront FES-PET/CT and (3) upfront FDG-PET/CT. The main outcome was the number of avoided biopsies to assess MBC. The costs for all three strategies were calculated based on the number of imaging tests and biopsies. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) to avoid a biopsy was calculated only based on the costs of initial imaging and staging tests. RESULTS: The FES-PET/CT strategy decreased the number of biopsies by 39 ± 9%, while upfront FDG-PET/CT increased the number of biopsies by 38 ± 15% when compared with the standard work-up. Both PET/CT strategies reduced the number of imaging tests and false positives when compared with the standard work-up. The number of false negatives decreased only in the FES-PET/CT strategy. The ICER in the FES-PET/CT strategy per avoided biopsy was 12.1 ± 3.4 thousand Euro. In the FDG-PET/CT strategy, the costs were higher and there were no avoided biopsies as compared with the standard work-up, hence this was an inferior strategy in terms of cost effectiveness. CONCLUSIONS: The number of performed biopsies was lower in the FES-PET/CT strategy at an ICER of 12.1 ± 3.4 thousand Euro per biopsy avoided, whereas the application of the FDG-PET/CT did not reduce the number of biopsies and was more expensive. Whether the FES-PET/CT strategy has additional benefits for patients in terms of therapy management has to be evaluated in clinical studies.

Original publication





Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1617 - 1625


Biopsy, Breast Neoplasms, Computer Simulation, Diagnostic Imaging, Estradiol, Female, Fluorodeoxyglucose F18, Humans, Neoplasm Metastasis, Neoplasm Staging, Positron-Emission Tomography, Radiopharmaceuticals, Receptors, Estrogen, Reproducibility of Results, Sensitivity and Specificity, Tomography, X-Ray Computed