PET scans may be effective
How things change! I clearly remember first hearing about PET scans and then several years when they were rarely used--and sometimes led to struggles with insurance companies about coverage. Now, many people with cancer are routinely followed with PET scans, although it is important to say that not everyone is. Sometimes a doctor will decide that another scan (CAT or MRI) is more useful in a particular set of circumstances. Certainly, most people who receive serial scans have one or another kind most often; it is usually easier to compare the same kind of scan to look for possible progression. Anyway, here is an article that suggests that PET scans may be especially useful for women with ER positive cancers. I give you the beginning and then a link:
PET Techniques Provide More Accurate Diagnosis, Prognosis in Challenging Breast Cancer Cases
Reston, Va. - In two new studies featured in the February issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, researchers are revealing how molecular imaging can be used to solve mysteries about difficult cases of breast cancer. One article focuses on an imaging agent that targets estrogen receptors in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients with formerly inconclusive assessments, and the second highlights a different imaging agent's ability to help predict the prognosis for patients undergoing chemotherapy for a very aggressive type of breast cancer.
Conventional imaging and biopsy are not always enough to diagnose and characterize suspected metastatic breast cancers, especially for patients who cannot receive repeated biopsies due to the location of the cancer or other existing illnesses. It is estimated that 75 percent of breast tumors show estrogen receptor activity at the point of diagnosis, and that estrogen receptor expression is an indicator of not only active cancer lesions, but patients' potential response to therapy, as well.
Researchers found that whole-body positron emission tomography (PET) with 16a-18F-fluoro-
17b-estradiol (18F-FES), a molecular imaging technique, provides an entirely non-invasive means of capturing estrogen receptor expression in estrogen receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer. It has the potential to help physicians make more accurate judgments about extent of disease, specifically whether anti-hormonal therapies would be beneficial for patients who had inconclusive assessments using more conventional methods.
"Physicians are routinely faced with uncertainty about diagnosis or treatment decision-making," says Geke Hospers, MD, PhD, professor of medical oncology, University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands. "These problems result in delays in diagnosis and institution of the right treatment, and this remains true for patients of breast cancer. The specificity of the FES-tracer for estrogen receptors makes this technique ideal for aiding physicians working with clinical dilemmas in estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer patients and could potentially lead to faster diagnoses and earlier implementation of appropriate treatments."