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PET/CT Brings New Hope to Patients With Deadly Form of Breast Cancer
Date:11/27/2007

CHICAGO, Nov. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers are improving the chances of women faced with an aggressive and difficult to diagnose form of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer spreads quickly and can be lethal in six to nine months. But by using fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography combined with computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT), radiologists and physicists are able to spot the spread of cancer earlier, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"PET/CT is useful in staging inflammatory breast cancer, because it provides information on both the primary disease site, as well as disease involvement throughout the rest of the body," said Selin Carkaci, M.D., assistant professor of diagnostic radiology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC) in Houston. "In addition, PET/CT is also a practical tool for therapeutic planning."

Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare but extremely aggressive form of breast cancer that doesn't present like other forms of breast cancer. It accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancer cases in the United States. The disease tends to be diagnosed in women at a younger age and is characterized by redness, swelling or warmth in the breast. These symptoms occur within a three-month period. Often there is no palpable lump, and by the time it is diagnosed, the cancer has already metastasized, or spread, reducing the chances for survival. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for patients with inflammatory breast cancer is only 25 to 50 percent.

With FDG-PET/CT, researchers are able to accurately determine the location of metastases early in the disease process, when appropriate treatment can be administered.

"Breast cancer is not a local problem," said co-author Homer A. Macapinlac, M.D., chair and professor of nuclear medicine at UTMDACC. "It is a systemic disease."

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SOURCE Radiological Society of North America
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