Test Helps Predict Whether Breast Cancer Chemo Will Work

Italian study produced high probability results

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MONDAY, June 3, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Italian researchers say they've found a test that can predict if chemotherapy will be effective in treating someone with breast cancer.

They say that scintigraphic imaging with a substance called 99mTc-sestamibi was able to predict 100 percent of the time which breast cancer patients would respond to chemotherapy and 83 percent of the time which patients wouldn't respond.

Scintigraphy is an imaging technique that uses radioisotopes and a camera that can track gamma rays.

Their study appears in the June issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

The researchers at the Regina Elena Cancer Institute in Rome studied 30 people with untreated locally advanced breast cancer whose planned treatment included a cycle of chemotherapy followed by surgery. The people received an injection of 99mTc-sestamibi -- a biological radiotracer -- and were scanned before treatment began and again after they'd had surgery.

Those most likely to respond to chemotherapy had lower wash-out rates (WOR), less than 45 percent, of the 99mTc-sestamibi from their bodies, the study says. That means that more of the 99mTc-sestamibi stayed in their bodies.

Those unlikely to respond to chemotherapy had a WOR of more than 45 percent.

Resistance to chemotherapy is a major cause of failure in treating breast cancer patients, the researchers say. They say knowing that a tumor is likely to be resistant to chemotherapy would allow doctors to prescribe specific drugs to boost the body's ability to respond to chemotherapy.

More information

The use of nuclear medicine is becoming more prevalent. This home page from the Society of Nuclear Medicine lets you explore all new frontiers.

SOURCE: Society of Nuclear Medicine news release, June 3, 2002

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