Nuclear medicine imaging allows prediction of breast cancer patients' response to hormonal treatment

Innovative use of somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (SRS), a nuclear medicine imaging technique looking at how the body functions at the molecular level, may provide near immediate selection of breast cancer patients for endocrine therapy and offers a new tool in fighting the disease, according to a study published in the January Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer death in this country. About one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer some time during her life, and more than 40,000 (1 in 33) of those die from the disease each year in the United States. Advanced or metastatic breast cancer patients receive either hormonal or chemotherapy treatment, depending on the hormone sensitivity of a woman's tumor. In some women, the female hormone estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells. Endocrine or hormonal therapy removes the influence of estrogen on breast cancer cells, preventing the cancer cells from growing and spreading.

"Our technique allows a fast and accurate selection of breast cancer patients for hormonal treatment," explained Bieke Van Den Bossche, M.D., Ph.D., nuclear medicine department, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium. "In routine practice, patients are assigned to hormonal treatment--or not--depending on the hormone receptor status of the primary tumor," said Van Den Bossche, co-author of "Early Prediction of Endocrine Therapy Effect in Advanced Breast Cancer Patients Using 99mTc-Depreotide Scintigraphy." She added, "With conventional imaging techniques, it takes at least three to six months to evaluate if the disease is regressing, stabilizing or progressing. Obviously, every day that a patient goes without efficient therapy is a day too many."

Hormonal treatment provides good results with minor side effects, but only patients who have tumors and metastases (spread) sensitive to hormones benefit from this type of t

Contact: Maryann Verrillo
Society of Nuclear Medicine

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