Breast Cancer - The TeCake

Scientists have developed a new method for the treatment of breasts cancer, a new and non-invasive imaging method for defining appropriateness of breast cancer treatment which is as accurate as the current technique. The results suggest the that the method might lead to more accurate treatment of individual patients.

Measuring the growth factor HER2 (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Type 2) is an important tool for deciding the correct treatment in breast cancer, Targeted treatments have no effect if the metastases don’t express HER2. The current diagnosis of elevated HER2 expression in metastatic cancer  is based on examination of tissue samples obtained by surgery or needle biopsies from the liver, bones and other organs.

The aim of the study is to develop the simpler technique, based on the body PET or CT imaging technique, and compare the result of the image analysis to the invasive measurements in the same patients. The study included 16 women with an on-going treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

All the patients were scanned using PET/CT and a novel tracer molecule, ABY-025 Affibody, labelled with the short-lived radioactive isotope Gallium-68. The results showed that the amount of HER2 expression in the metastases was accurately measured with the new method. Metastases cancer refers to the spread of the disease from the part of the body where it originates to the others part of the body.

In addition, the amount of HER2 expression in the metastases  was frequently found to be different from the primary tumor, leading to a change in the therapy in several patients.

“Our study resulted in two patients starting therapy and one patient ending therapy with HER2-targeting drugs,” said Jens Sorensen, PET-researcher and adjunct professor at the Institution of Surgical Sciences at Uppsala University.

The researchers now plan a larger study with more participating hospitals to confirm the results with the intention of making the new method for the treatment of Breast Cancer. The study was published in the journal Theranostics.

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