Comparison of the Clinical Value of WBMR and PET/MR with PET/CT and Standard Diagnostics in the Preoperative Staging of Breast Cancer

A comparative study of the clinical value of innovative whole-body imaging techniques WBMR and PET/MR versus PET/CT and the standard diagnostic pathway in the preoperative assessment of the stage of breast cancer in patients.

The Medical University of Bialystok, in collaboration with LOMiRT, invites you to participate in an innovative research project involving the most technologically advanced whole-body imaging studies for breast cancer patients.

Information for Breast Cancer Patients

Concerning statistics

Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumor among women in Poland and worldwide. In Poland in 2020, there were 17,511 reported cases, accounting for 23.8% of all malignant tumor cases. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in our country, following lung cancer.

Both in Poland and across Europe, there is a steady increase in the incidence rate of cancer, including breast cancer. Given that we rank second in Europe in terms of breast cancer mortality, it is crucial to undertake specific actions to enhance the effectiveness of therapies. Potential reasons for high mortality rates include late detection of tumors and suboptimal therapy selection, often influenced by imprecise initial staging of advanced tumors.

It is undeniable that precise preoperative assessment of tumor staging during initial diagnostics, made possible mainly through innovative multiparametric imaging studies, forms the basis for successful therapeutic interventions.

Current imaging diagnostic standards aimed at ruling out distant metastases in breast cancer patients involve methods with relatively low sensitivity and specificity. These include chest X-rays, abdominal and pelvic ultrasounds. Many patients also undergo whole-body computed tomography (CT), which offers higher sensitivity and specificity compared to X-rays and ultrasounds, but significantly lower than PET/CT. However, CT exposes patients to high doses of ionizing radiation and requires contrast agents. Only ambiguous results from these tests justify proceeding to PET/CT scans. Yet, PET/CT is underutilized in preoperative diagnostics, despite its potential to alter staging in up to 37% of cases [12]. In cancer, time is crucial, and the current procedural requirements prolong the diagnostic process.

Whole-body MRI (WBMR) and PET/MR scans, despite their high sensitivity and specificity for whole-body assessment, are not included in the current list of reimbursed examinations. PET/MR offers a significant reduction in ionizing radiation exposure compared to PET/CT. Meanwhile, WBMR, which does not involve ionizing radiation, demonstrates high sensitivity (97%) and specificity (91%) in detecting metastatic breast cancer [13].

Sensitivity and specificity of individual imaging methods in detecting metastatic breast cancer*

Imaging diagnostic methodSensitivitySpecificityExposure to ionizing radiation
WBMR97%91% [13]
PET/CT95-100%95-98% [19-24]+
PET/MR98,7-100%96,5% [16,25]+
computed tomography73%95% [26]+
Ultrasound/Radiography78%91,4% [16]-/+

Benefits for study participants

Each participant in the study will undergo PET/CT and PET/MR imaging. Participants in the research group will additionally receive WBMR (Whole Body Magnetic Resonance) imaging. These studies can enhance the accuracy of whole-body diagnostics to determine the extent of breast cancer and potential distant metastases, thereby directly impacting the establishment of appropriate and individualized therapeutic pathways for the participants.

The study conditions provide access to state-of-the-art imaging diagnostics for women across the entire country, regardless of their treatment location.

Qualification criteria for the study:

  1. Preliminary diagnosis of breast cancer at stage IIA or higher according to TNM AJCC classification.
  2. Good overall health status according to WHO criteria.
  3. Initial standard diagnostic evaluation assessing the stage of the disease to qualify for appropriate therapy has been conducted.
  4. Diagnosis based on cytological or histopathological examination.
  5. No therapeutic intervention has been initiated.

Exclusion criteria from the study:

  1. Presence of another malignant tumor in the patient.
  2. Previous initiation of treatment for the primary disease.
  3. Terminal condition of the patient.
  4. Metal implants or foreign metal bodies preventing MRI examination on a 3T scanner.
  5. Claustrophobia.
  6. Body weight that prevents PET/MR examination.
  7. Lack of patient cooperation preventing the completion of lengthy imaging studies.
  8. Pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Conditions for participation in the project:

  1. Contact BioSkaner directly in person, by phone, or by email.
  2. Our staff will conduct qualification assessments based on the criteria listed above.
  3. Arrange a visit with a nuclear medicine specialist at the BioSkaner clinic located at ul. Żurawia 71a in Białystok.
  4. Within 7 days of the screening visit and qualification for the project, the procedure for whole-body imaging examinations as outlined in the Project will commence.
  5. After the examination, the patient will promptly receive saved images, and once reviewed by physicians, a description of the examination in electronic form. The report will be sent to the patient’s specified mailing address or email.

Proper preoperative diagnostics should form the basis for selecting the most appropriate therapeutic option. However, the condition is to use research methods at the highest level of technological advancement. According to the above data, despite significant technological progress, current reimbursement procedures do not cover the use of the latest imaging methods and nuclear medicine advancements. Ultimately, this limits the optimization and individualization of patient therapy.

Contact information:

phone number: 85 500 10 21



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