The main cause of death from breast cancer is distant metastases. The detection of distant metastases in patients with breast cancer alters treatment and prognosis. The staging interventions aim to avoid overtreatment. The risk for metastases is lower in stage 1 and stage 2.

Stage 1

For breast cancer patients without symptoms suggestive of metastases at clinical stage 1, the ECIBC's Guidelines Development Group (GDG)

  • suggest against using conventional staging exams (conditional recommendation, low certainty of the evidence)
  • recommends against using positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) (strong recommendation, very low certainty of the evidence)

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Stage 2

For breast cancer patients without symptoms suggestive of metastases at clinical stage 2, the ECIBC's Guidelines Development Group (GDG) suggests:

  • against using conventional staging exams (conditional recommendation, low certainty of the evidence)
  • against using positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) staging exams (conditional recommendation, very low certainty of the evidence)

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Stage 3

For breast cancer patients without symptoms suggestive of metastases at clinical stage 3, the ECIBC's Guidelines Development Group (GDG)

  • recommends using conventional staging exams, if positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) is not readily available (strong recommendation, moderate certainty of the evidence).
  • suggests using positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) alone rather than conventional staging exams or the combination of conventional staging exams plus PET-CT (conditional recommendation, low certainty of the evidence).

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