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New Breast Cancer Scan Cuts False Alarms

Researchers Say PEM Scan May Be More Accurate Than MRI

PEM Accurate in Women With Dense Breasts

The researchers also looked at PEM alone to see if was affected by breast density or hormonal status. It wasn't, successfully detecting cancer in 77% of women with extremely dense breasts and in 88% of women with dense breasts. As for premenopausal women -- whose hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can influence MRI results -- PEM proved accurate in 88% of cases.

"Unless breast MRI is performed on days seven through 14 of the menstrual cycle, reading images is extremely difficult," Schilling says. With PEM, we don't have that problem."

Another advantage of PEM is that it avoids the close confinement of an MRI exam, during which a woman's arms are restrained and "she has to go into the bore of the magnet," Schilling says. During PEM, a woman sits upright and has freedom to move around a bit, she says.

Doctors also find it easier, as breast MRI exams produce more than 2,000 images to be interpreted, while PEM produces just 48 images that can be correlated with a woman's mammogram, she says.

Schilling notes that PEM is already approved for use in some women who have breast cancer, to see if their cancer has spread or if their treatment is working. If the findings of the new study can be replicated in larger trials "it will be a new item in our toolbox for screening high-risk women for cancer," she says.

One such study, of 400 women, is under way.

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