News | April 08, 2014

Dense Breast Tissue is a Non-issue for Molecular Breast Imaging

Molecular Breast Imaging Mammography Women's Health

April 8, 2014 — Molecular breast imaging (MBI), also referred to as breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI), can detect cancer independently of breast tissue density. This remarkable finding was recently published in the American Journal of Roentgenology by a group of radiologists and surgeons at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The data was obtained from more than 300 breast cancer patients that underwent the MBI/BSGI procedure. The same high rate of 95 percent of breast cancer detection was recorded for women with or without breast density. "This study indicates that breast tissue density is simply a non-issue for MBI/BSGI," said Douglas Kieper, vice president for Science and Technology at Dilon Technologies, a manufacturer of molecular breast imaging systems. "This is great news for patients who have an inconclusive mammogram due to breast density, implants or scarring." 

Various studies have shown that mammography is less effective in patients with dense breast tissue, missing as much as 50 percent of breast cancers. Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is known to be more sensitive than mammography or ultrasound in women with dense breasts, but at a much higher cost per examination. On the other hand MBI is an imaging procedure that has been shown in several clinical studies to be better than mammography or ultrasound for detecting breast cancer, especially in women with dense breasts. Furthermore, the MBI/BSGI procedure can be conducted at a third of the cost of an MRI and it can be offered to patients who cannot have an MRI, such as women with pacemakers, those who are claustrophobic or those on dialysis.

For years, women who have dense breasts were generally unaware of their breast density or of the possibility that their "negative" mammogram might be missing cancers. That is until recently, as several states have passed legislation requiring breast centers to inform patients with dense breasts that their mammogram might be inconclusive. The state of Oregon new breast density law includes BSGI as one of the technology options that should be considered for patients who receive a dense-breast notification from their doctor. The state of Indiana goes beyond that by requiring state employee health plans to cover additional medical examination for women with high breast density.  

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