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:
- American Cancer Society
- Breast Cancer Research Foundation
- Living Beyond Breast Cancer
- Medline Plus Breast Cancer
- National Breast Cancer Foundation
- National Cancer Institute
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
- Sisters Network
- Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
- Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization
- YWCA Encore Plus Program