Application of PET/CT to Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is usually diagnosed with a biopsy. If cancer is detected, then the next step is usually to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes closest to the cancer. This is also usually done with a biopsy.

If cancer is found in a lymph node, then the next step is to determine how much the cancer has spread beyond that lymph node. PET/CT is the most accurate way to do that.

PET/CT is an excellent tool for measuring response to therapy in breast cancer. If you are having chemotherapy to prepare for surgery (neo-adjuvant therapy), then PET/CT can determine if the chemo is working and if it is not, then your doctor can change the chemo before your surgery. PET/CT works the same way if you are only having chemo.

PET/CT is also a powerful tool for re-staging and surveillance.

Breast Cancer Case

Patient: 36yo female with newly diagnosed breast cancer. A lung lesion was seen on CT.
PET/CT was ordered to stage the patient.

Results: PET/CT confirmed that the lung lesion was cancerous. PET/CT also found cancer in the spine in the neck. This area appeared normal on CT.

PET/CT upstaged the patient to stage IV. Because of the extent of disease, chemotherapy was determined to be the most appropriate therapy. This PET/CT scan was used as a baseline scan to compare with a scan after the first cycle of chemotherapy.

More Information about Breast Cancer: