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Using Molecular Imaging to Provide Unique Insights to Metastatic Breast Cancer

By David Mankoff, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Gerd Muehllehner Professor of Radiology; Vice-Chair for Research, Department of Radiology.

As a Susan G. Komen Scholar and a huge fan of the Komen Philadelphia, I am honored to be part of Komen Philadelphia’s upcoming Pink, Purple, Strength and Unity Conference. This outstanding meeting will focus on a subject of great important to the breast cancer community – and to me – namely, metastatic breast cancer.

I am a nuclear medicine (imaging) physician and imaging physics engineer who has focused most of my research on the use of positron emission tomography (PET), a from or molecular imaging, to help guide the treatment of breast.  My research has focused mostly on metastatic breast cancer, where molecular imaging provides unique insights into the biologic features of metastatic breast cancer, including heterogeneity. 

At the November 11 Conference, I look forward to sharing what I have learned by making a presentation focusing  on how PET and molecular imaging can be used to measure therapeutic targets in metastatic breast cancer to help select individualized, targeted treatment with the greatest likelihood of benefit to the patient.  I will also review how PET can help assess, including early in the course of treatment, whether or not a treatment is working by measuring biochemical changes in the tumor that occur well before there is a measurable change in tumor size. Lastly, my presentation will also include work using PET to help assess response for breast cancer patients with metastatic disease in the bones only, a group that is often excluded from clinical trials of new cancer treatments due to the difficulty of measuring response by imaging.

My hope is that my talk will provide those living with metastatic breast cancer with encouragement as well as knowledge they can use in talking with their physicians and pursuing the best course of treatment.

The Pink, Purple, Strength and Unity Conference is a free event for breast cancer survivors and individuals living with metastatic breast cancer. More information and online registration can be found here.

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