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Lawrence + Memorial Hospital using precision medicine to treat breast cancer

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

NEW LONDON, CT (Oct. 13, 2021) Yale New Haven Health is bringing precision medicine to breast cancer patients at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital (L+M) with a new imaging agent that is designed specifically to detect certain types of recurrent or metastatic breast cancer.

Last year for the first time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) nuclear medicine imaging agent, Cerianna, which detects estrogen receptor (ER) positive lesions to help determine treatment protocols for patients with recurrent or metastatic breast cancer.

“This new imaging is significantly more specific than other imaging agents and is a valuable additional tool in our toolbox,” said Louis Mazzarelli, MD, director of diagnostic radiology at L+M and Westerly hospitals. “If a PET scan identifies disease, we can aid our Smilow Oncology team in developing a more personalized treatment plan, which can significantly alter outcome for our patients.”

“This is a totally different approach to medicine,” he said. “Once in the body, the radiotracer seeks abnormalities specifically related to estrogen positive breast cancer. If these are present within lymph nodes or within the body otherwise, the treating team can use that lesion roadmap to develop an optimal care plan.”

The radiotracer is injected during a PET scan and highlights the presence of cancer in organs and tissue. In particular, it provides visual detection of ER positive lesions. The process takes about 80 minutes before radiologists are able to review the images.

It is estimated that 1 in 12 women in the United States will develop some form of breast cancer and that over a quarter-million breast cancer diagnoses are made each year. The American Cancer Society estimates that roughly two out of every three breast cancer cases are hormone receptor positive.

“We are excited to offer this new advanced imaging technique which provides a more specific understanding of the extent of disease in a subset of our patients with breast cancer,” said Robert D. Legare, MD, medical director, Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center at Waterford. “Our radiologists are bringing advanced diagnostic techniques to our community, offering innovation to help us serve our patients in the best possible manner.

“The use of this radiotracer is a significant step forward in nuclear medicine that will allow physicians to more precisely treat their patients based on the most accurate information” said Dr. Mazzarelli. “While we have made significant strides in breast cancer treatment for the general population, we can now further customize treatment one patient at a time, bringing the greatest of care to our patients.”

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, a member of Yale New Haven Health, is a non-profit, 308-bed general and acute care hospital providing patient care to medical, surgical, pediatric, psychiatric and obstetrical patients in southeastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island since 1912. Lawrence + Memorial offers cardiac acute, step-down and rehabilitation programs and is the only eastern Connecticut hospital that performs emergency and elective angioplasty.

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