Photo: MRI of a breast
Women whose MRI is difficult to
interpret benefit from PEM;
© NCI Visuals Online

These are two factors that limit the effectiveness of standard mammography and MRI at detecting cancer. "The ability of PEM to detect cancer does not appear to be adversely affected by breast density, hormone replacement therapy or menopausal status," said lead researcher Kathy Schilling, M.D., director of breast imaging and intervention at the Center for Breast Care at Boca Raton Community Hospital in Florida. "The sensitivity of PEM is equal to or better than breast MRI, and PEM has fewer false-positive results."

In the study, 208 patients with breast cancer underwent PEM, an application of high-resolution breast positron emission tomography (PET) in which a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the body to measure metabolic activity and determine the presence of disease. The researchers used a PET unit specially developed for the breast and small body parts to perform the PEM exam.

Of 189 malignant lesions imaged, PEM detected 176 for an overall sensitivity rate of 93 percent. Fifteen percent were ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a noninvasive cancer confined to the ducts of the breast; 85 percent were invasive cancer.

PEM successfully detected cancer in 100 percent of fatty breasts, 93 percent of dense breasts, 85 percent of extremely dense breasts, 93 percent of women both with and without a history of hormone replacement therapy, 90 percent of pre-menopausal women and 94 percent of post-menopausal women.

According to Schilling, PEM is well tolerated by patients, who sit upright during the exam and are not alone or closely confined as they would be during an MRI exam. While breast MRI exams produce more than 2,000 images to be interpreted, PEM produces just 48 images that can be correlated with a woman's mammogram. "It is also ideal for those patients whose MRI is difficult to interpret due to hormonal influences, women with implants or patients with metal in their bodies" she added.

COMPAMED.de; Source: Radiological Society of North America