Positron emission mammography (PEM) has higher detection sensitivity for breast cancer compared with whole-body positron emission tomography (PET) due to higher spatial resolution. We have developed a new PEM device with high resolution over a wide field of view. This PEM device comprises novel scintillation crystals, praseodymium-doped lutetium aluminum garnet (Pr:LuAG). In the present study, the clinical use of the newly developed PEM for the detection of small breast cancer was compared with that of the conventional PET-computed tomography (PET/CT). Eighty-two patients with breast cancer less than 20 mm (UICC T1) participated in this study, including 23 patients with T1a or T1b breast cancer (less than 10 mm). Histologically-proved lesions were examined by PET/CT and PEM on the same day after injection of [18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-2-fluoro-D-glucose ([18F]FDG), a marker of glycolytic activity. The newly developed PEM showed better sensitivity of cancer detection compared with PET/CT especially in case of the small T1a or T1b lesions. Moreover, when the conventional PET/CT and new PEM were combined, the detection sensitivity with [18F]FDG molecular imaging for T1 (N = 82) and T1a plus T1b breast cancer (N = 23) were 90% and 70%, respectively. The uptake of [18F]FDG was proportional to the histological malignancy of breast cancer. Using the newly-developed PEM with [18F]FDG, we are able to identify and characterize exactly the small breast tumors less than 10 mm in combination with the conventional PET/CT. These data indicate that PEM and PET/CT are synergic and complementary for the detection of small breast cancer.
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