FDG-PET/CT improves detection of breast cancer

Using FDG-PET/CT, researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston identified the precise location and extent of metastasis in the initial staging of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, reports on findings in 41 women between the ages of 25 and 71 with unilateral primary IBC who had originally presented with swelling and some pain and skin changes, such as rash and discoloration.

A palpable mass was not evident on physical examination in 26 patients (63%), which is not unusual for this form of breast cancer, the authors noted, and 90% had no symptoms of distant metastasis.

After a whole-body FDG-PET/CT exam, the scans showed that 49% of the patients had distant metastasis, while 27% had disease in multiple sites. Neither finding had been previously detected by conventional imaging. Biopsy and supplementary imaging confirmed the results.

The researchers recommended future research that uses PET/CT earlier in the process to track therapy response to determine its efficacy.

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