“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."
A study looking at PET scans for people having treatment for breast cancer
This study looked at whether PET scans showed how well a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel worked in people with breast cancer.
Doctors often use scans (such as CT scans) before, during and after treatment to find out how well the treatment is working.
As chemotherapy can cause side effects, it is best to know as early as possible if treatment is working. If not working as well as the doctors hoped, they could change the treatment or stop it, depending on the situation.
Doctors thought that using a PET scan early on in treatment could help with this. PET scans can show cell growth, so if the treatment was slowing down the growth of the cancer, the scan should pick this up.
The researchers compared the PET scans to standard ways of measuring response to treatment, such as CT scans or ultrasound.
Summary of results
The study team found that they could use a type of PET scans (called FLT-PET) to show changes in cancer cell growth.
This study recruited 20 people. Everyone had a PET scan before starting their course of docetaxel and again half way through. CT scans or ultrasounds were done half way through their treatment to measure the response to treatment. The researchers then compared the PET scan and CT or ultrasound scan taken half way through treatment.
They were able to compare the scans of 18 people. Both scans showed that in
- 1 person there was no sign of their cancer – a
- 12 people their cancer had shrunk – a
- 5 people their cancer had stayed the same –
The researchers concluded that PET scans could be used to show how well breast cancer responds to docetaxel chemotherapy.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Prof R Coombes
Imperial College School of Medicine
Medical Research Council (MRC)