Combined PET & CT scanner could help surgeons remove tumors with sufficient margin - the first time

Image: By Abby Tabor | Science Writer at NASA's Ames Research Center

Surgical breast cancer treatments, including mastectomy and lumpectomy, are used to remove tumors from patients. Optimal outcomes require tumorous tissue to be surgically removed as completely as possible. The Badawi lab has developed novel methods and equipment for imaging an excised tissue specimen then and there, in the operating room, quickly obtaining the information a surgeon needs to decide if sufficient tissue has been removed. Their apparatus combines a positron emission tomography (PET) scanner with a micro computed tomography (micro CT) scanner.

Current methods can take days, using histopathology to determine if a sufficient margin of tissue around the tumor has been removed, ensuring that all of the cancerous tissue has been excised. In 20-40% of patients treated with lumpectomy, histopathology results indicate another operation will be needed. For breast cancer patients, the need to undergo a second surgery (and, potentially, additional subsequent surgeries) creates significant emotional and financial stress.


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Image by _oblique_ via Flickr.

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