Researchers at Riken and the National Cancer Center have developed a new method of diagnosing a specific type of malignant breast cancer by combining position emission tomography (PET) and a drug already used to treat patients.
The PET scan and the drug are a less invasive and less painful method than alternative procedures such as taking cells from a patient. The new method could be applied to detecting other kinds of cancer.
Precise determination of cancer types was not possible using a conventional PET scan. The researchers were able to identify areas of HER2-positive breast cancer, with considerable amounts of HER2 protein, after injecting trastuzumab (commercially sold as Herceptin), a target drug which attaches to the protein.
They could also identify cancer that had spread to the bones and other parts of the bodies in some of the 14 breast cancer patients injected with the drug.
Yasuyoshi Watanabe, director at the Riken Center for Molecular Imaging Science, said, “It is epoch-making that types of cancer and suitability of a drug can be diagnosed with a less painful injection of the target drug.”
The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology on June 5.
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