Austin Cancer Centers is thrilled that one of its physicians, breast cancer surgeon Dr. Jane Nelson, has been accepted to present at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, one of the largest multidisciplinary conferences for breast cancer, held annually in December. Dr. Nelson will discuss the findings of a study conducted in Austin examining the feasibility of PEM (positron emission mammography) imaging to predict response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. This is the first reported use of PEM for this purpose.
Dr. Nelson has practiced as a breast surgeon in Austin since 1996. In 2007, she began offering PEM imaging to her patients as an alternative to MRI. PEM is a breast specific PET scan that images metabolic activity of tissues. These scans use a glucose tracer to identify areas that are metabolically active, like cancer. The PEM scan has been shown to be as accurate as breast MRI in identifying malignant lesions, but has the advantage of showing breast cancers at a smaller size ( <2 mm) while delivering fewer false positives due to hormone effect in premenopausal patients than an MRI.
“I use it to characterize my patients’ breast cancers to help decide which surgical approach is appropriate for the patient – whether we can conserve the breast or need to perform a mastectomy,” Dr. Nelson.
In this study, patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (prior to surgery) were imaged before and after the treatment course, and the PEM findings were then correlated to surgical pathologic results. Dr. Nelson will present her findings during the SABCS meeting in San Antonio, December 10-14, 2013.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about one in 36. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment protocols.