Results for 50 patients with breast cancer were reported by 32 different physicians. Clinical management changes included moving from one type of treatment to another, that is, i.e., from surgery to radiation therapy, or from medical treatment to no treatment. Other changes were within the existing treatment, i.e., changing from one kind of chemotherapy to another. The impact of the PET scan results was also significant on disease staging. More than a quarter (28%; n = 14) were upstaged and 8% (n = 4) were downstaged. Before the scan, 36% of the patients were reported as having stage IV cancer; after the scan, more than half (52%) were at this level as a result of finding previously undetected metastases.
These results demonstrate the importance of PET in making treatment decisions for women with recurrent breast cancer, stated study author Johannes Czernin, MD, of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, Ahmanson Biological Imaging Clinic/Nuclear Medicine Clinic, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Better treatment decisions should mean longer and better quality of life for those suffering from this disease.
All of the patients referred for PET scans had been sent for restaging. Czernin noted that even when staging itself wasnt affected, physicians often changed the clinical management as a result of the scan, adding to its importance.
This study, combined with the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committees June 19 vote in favor of reimbursement for recurrent breast cancer, reinforces the role and the importance of PET in the disease management and treatment planning of women with breast cancer, Czernin stated.