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Staging Locally Advanced Cancers

Posted 3/4/2013

Posted in

  I recognize that this is a rather arcane topic that is either of great interest or no interest at all. For women who present with locally advanced breast cancer (meaning a large tumor), this is very important information. Whatever the details of one's circumstances, it is vital to have all the correct information in order to best make the right treatment decisions. Until this study, there has been some uncertainty re how how to collect information for these women. The point of contention is how large is the tumor as that directs whether a mastectomy will be necessary or whether a lumpectomy/radiation will suffice.

  This is one of the situations in which neoadjuvant chemotherapy is often suggested. This means chemo that is given after a biopsy, but before surgery. The goals are two: to introduce the systemic therapy as quickly as possible and to try to shrink the primary tumor in the breast so that a mastectomy might be avoided. This article is comments from about staging in this situation. The bottom line is that the combination of a CT and a PET scan works best.

PET/CT Improves Staging in Patients with Locally Advanced Breast Cancer

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will talk with you about the stage of the cancer. Stage is usually expressed as a number on a scale of 0 through IV — with stage 0 describing non-invasive cancers that remain within their original location and stage IV describing invasive cancers that have spread outside the breast to other parts of the body.

Knowing the stage of the breast cancer is important because it helps you and your doctor understand your prognosis (the most likely outcome of the disease) and make decisions about treatment. Doctors sometimes have a hard time staging breast cancer that has spread extensively in the breast or to the nearby lymph nodes (called “locally advanced breast cancer”). In a recent study, researchers tested whether using an imagingtest called the PET/CT improved the staging of this kind of cancer.

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