Gamma imaging provides superior tumor detection for dense breasts

June 6, 2011, Society of Nuclear Medicine

A study revealed at SNM's 58th Annual Meeting is comparing the breast-tumor detection capabilities of two very different imaging technologies—breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI), which provides functional images of breast physiology, and ultrasound—for women with complex breast imaging cases that require further evaluation. Many women who have dense breast tissue (radiodense breasts) are difficult to image using mammography, currently the gold standard of breast imaging. For women whose mammograms are not clear enough to determine whether cancer is present, support methods such as BSGI and ultrasound are used to answer any remaining diagnostic questions.

"A lot of white shows up on the mammograms of with radiodense breasts, and it becomes a lot like trying to find one cloud in a cloudy sky," says Douglas Kieper, BSNMT, professor and nuclear medicine research supervisor at Hampton University, Hampton, Va. "This study tells us that BSGI improves our ability to detect breast cancer when combined with other breast imaging techniques. What we are really looking at is the impact that BSGI and ultrasound have on breast cancer patient management. Comprehensive breast imaging including BSGI could improve breast cancer detection and provide a better prognosis for breast cancer patients."

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the foremost form of cancer developed by women, except for skin cancer. An estimated 207,090 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 39,840 died of the disease in 2010. Current statistics estimate that a woman's chance of developing the disease is slightly less than one in eight women. Mammography catches about 85 percent of breast cancers in women with normal breast tissue but only 60 percent in women with dense breast tissue. Instead of relaying information about the structure or anatomy as mammography and ultrasound imaging do, BSGI informs clinicians about functions of the breast tissues, specifically changes in tumor tissues that could be essential to appropriate treatment planning, whether for biopsy, lumpectomy or cancer therapy.

BSGI, also known as molecular breast imaging, is most valuable for women who have an unresolved diagnostic concerns after mammography. These are often labeled as BIRADS 0 mammograms according to the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System. Breast cancer patients receive a score that assesses cancer in the range of one to six, the latter being confirmed malignancy. BIRADS 0 means that there is insufficient information and further evaluation is necessary, whether the patient has dense breasts, had negative results during a mammogram but nipple discharge, or has a family history of breast cancer.

For this study, 119 patients from four medical centers scheduled for BSGI evaluation were added to a registry, and results of their routine exams were collected for analysis. Results of both routine BSGI and ultrasound imaging were collected and compared for their ability to provide additional information about the case and change breast cancer patient management. Of the 119 subjects, 102 lesions were benign, 25 were malignant and 2 were labeled as high-risk for cancer. BSGI changed the diagnosis for 109 participants compared to ultrasound, which changed patient management in 71 cases. BSGI offered greater sensitivity for detecting breast cancer (100 percent versus 77 percent with ultrasound) and greater specificity, being negative in benign cases (82 percent versus 52 percent of cases with ultrasound).

Molecular is continually expanding. If future studies also prove that BSGI imaging is clinically useful for patient management and the cost of technology and radiation dose are reduced with technological advancements, BSGI could potentially become an accepted imaging technique for initial cancer screening. Until then, BSGI is an effective tool for providing clinicians with additional information about complex cases and could potentially improve cancer outcomes for women.

More information: Scientific Paper 246: D. Kieper, Hampton University, Hampton, Va; "Breast-specific gamma imaging compared to ultrasound in the management of patients with BIRADS 0 mammograms," SNM's 58th Annual Meeting, June 4-8, 2011, San Antonio, TX.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.