Breast Cancer Follow-up

After treatment is complete, it is important to know if any active cancer cells remain in the body. This is called restaging. A follow-up whole-body PET/CT scan is used to restage the entire body for the presence or absence of active tumor.

If the cancer cells have been destroyed they will not absorb the radioactive glucose. Conversely, if the cancer cells have come back, the PET/CT scan can detect the accumulation of radioactive glucose. This helps the physician determine if the treatment was successful or if the tumor has returned.

Often, scar tissue at the site of surgical resection or radiation treatment may appear as an abnormality on the CT scan. The PET portion of the scan can detect any accumulation or absence of radioactive glucose, which helps the physician differentiate scar tissue, from recurrent tumor or residual disease. If anything suggests that the cancer might have come back in either the breast or elsewhere, the doctor will want to do more tests. If retreatment by surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, or chemotherapy can be started sooner, it can improve the chance of beating the disease.

PET/CT can be used to image breast tumor response to therapy and to detect recurrence in treated lesions.