You may not need them. And the risks may be greater than the benefits. Imaging tests, such as CT, PET, and bone scans, take pictures to help find out if the cancer has spread in your body. Another test, called a tumor marker test, is a kind of blood test. Tumor markers are also called biomarkers or serum markers. They are higher than normal in some cancer patients.
Research has found that cancer cells can spread unseen , before a tumor develops, and leave a ticking time bomb in the body. But the scientists who made the discovery say it soon may be possible for doctors to target these "silent" cancer cells and kill them before they can kill the patient. The researchers said the ability of these early cancer cells to spread while remaining silent for years explains why a patient can die a long time after being treated for what was thought to be a benign tumor, or even no tumor at all. Experts say 5 percent to 8 percent of cancer patients die of what's called cancer of unknown primary, or CUP. This phenomenon occurs when the disease metastasizes without doctors having found a primary tumor. In other cases, cancer can be successfully treated but return decades later. For instance, small growths can be surgically removed from breast cancer patients, but the women die of the disease 20 or 30 years later.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare and very aggressive disease in which cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare, accounting for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in the United States. Most inflammatory breast cancers are invasive ductal carcinomas, which means they developed from cells that line the milk ducts of the breast and then spread beyond the ducts.
ORLANDO — New treatment algorithms for breast cancer treatment accept the "no ink on tumor" standard as an acceptable pathological measure of negative margins for early stage invasive cancer in the breast conservation setting, doctors said here. In outlining changes in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for breast cancer treatment, Kilian Salerno, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, said, "No ink on tumor is considered adequate margin for stage I- II invasive carcinoma treated with whole breast radiation therapy. The member breast cancer guideline writing committee accepted the standard as part of the algorithm for treatment, following the approach put forth by the joint Consensus Guidelines on Margins in treatment of ductal carcinoma in situ DCIS by the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Salerno said the new guidelines consider that a 2-mm margin reduces the risk of ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence among patients undergoing treatment for excision of pure DCIS relative to narrower widths in patients receiving whole breast radiation therapy. The new guidelines are a departure from earlier algorithms that discussed margins as wide as 10 mm as acceptable.