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Improved imaging for identifying breast cancer in overweight women

RESTON, Va.Increasing the ability to identify sentinel nodesthe very first lymph nodes that trap cancer cells draining away from a breast lesion sitehas a major impact in the treatment and outcome of breast cancer patients, possibly eliminating the need for unnecessary and painful surgery. Researchers found that using SPECT/CT imaging aids in sentinel node identificationespecially for overweight or obese women, according to a report in the February issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Lymphoscintigraphy (a commonly performed nuclear medicine procedure that makes the lymphatic system visible to specialized cameras)used with single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)/computed tomography (CT) imagingboosted sentinel node identification not only for the general population but also for those who were overweight. "The addition of SPECT/CT with lymphoscintigraphy enhanced sentinel node identification in overweight patients with breast cancer," noted Hedva Lerman, vice chair of the nuclear medicine department at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel. Failure to identify sentinel nodes is more frequent in overweight or obese patients, and improved techniques are needed to guide surgeons to their location, said the co-author of "Improved Sentinel Node Identification by SPECT/CT in Overweight Patients With Breast Cancer." She explained, "While the identification of the sentinel node is an important part of surgical management approaches in breast cancer, obesity is a significant factor in why it fails and inevitably leads to occasionaland unnecessaryfull axillary lymph node dissection (a more complex surgery that removes all lymph nodes in the armpit region)."

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in this country, with women having a 1 in 8 chance of developing it during their lives. When breast cancer is suspected, women may undergo sentinel node biopsy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to determine whet
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Contact: Maryann Verrillo
mverrillo@snm.org
703-652-6773
Society of Nuclear Medicine
6-Feb-2007


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