Scans spot hidden tumours in rare cancer syndrome

March 19th, 2008 - 4:53 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 19 (IANS) Periodic body scans in combination with physical exams might catch more tumours at a curable stage, according to a study. For instance, a full-body PET/CT scanning detected unsuspected tumours in three out of 15 patients, with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS), a rare genetic cancer disorder for which no screening tests have been recommended.

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute cautioned that more broad-based studies are required to determine whether such screening is beneficial in LFS patients - highly susceptible to cancers from an early age because of an inborn gene mutation.

“We need to be cautious, and we shouldn’t say that every patient with the syndrome should have a PET/CT examination,” said Annick Van Den Abbeele of Dana-Farber. “But the study showed some interesting findings that justify a larger, international study in these patients.”

PET detects cancers by tracking their abnormal appetite for sugar (glucose) compared to normal tissues, while CT (computed tomography) uses X-rays to show anatomical and structural details.

Combining the two modalities in a single machine allows a patient to undergo both exams in one session; the resulting images are superimposed to reveal the precise location of suspected tumours.

LFS is a rare hereditary cancer syndrome named for the researchers who first described it, Frederick Li, of Dana-Farber and Joseph Fraumeni Jr of the National Cancer Institute.

Among individuals with LFS, the chance of developing any cancer has been estimated at 50 percent by age 30, and 90 percent by age 60. A survivor of one cancer has a high risk of developing a new malignancy over time.

These findings have been published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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