Washington, Dec 3 : A new study has claimed that breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) effectively detects cancers, which can easily dodge mammograms or clinical exam.
According to most experts, the best way to decrease breast cancer mortality is through early detection using mammography and clinical breast exam.
However, there are some cancers, which cannot be easily detected with mammography and clinical exam, particularly in the earliest stage when treatment is most effective.
While mammography findings are characterized by the difference in appearance between normal and suspicious breast tissue, BSGI findings are based on how cancerous cells function.
BSGI is an emerging molecular imaging technology using a high-resolution gamma camera that allows for imaging with very mild compression of the breast along with an injection of a low-dose nuclear material called a radiotracer, which is absorbed by the cells.
As cancerous cells have a higher rate of metabolic activity, these cells take up the tracer at a higher level than in normal cells.
"BSGI can identify the most difficult to detect breast cancer-invasive lobular carcinoma. It also can help us detect additional lesions of all types of breast cancer in women whose mammograms show only one suspicious lesion," said lead author Rachel F. Brem, M.D., professor of radiology and director of the Breast Imaging and Interventional Center at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
She added: "It is this physiological approach to breast cancer diagnosis that allows for improved cancer detection."
For the study, the researchers reviewed the records of 159 women with at least one suspicious or cancerous lesion found by mammography or physical exam, who had undergone BSGI to determine if additional lesions were present.
BSGI results displayed an additional suspicious lesion missed by mammography and physical exam in 46 (29 percent) of the women. In 14 (36 percent) of the 39 women who underwent biopsy, the newly discovered lesions were cancerous.
"The data suggest that BSGI allows for the diagnosis of more and earlier breast cancers," said Brem.
Brem highlighted that BSGI is not meant to replace mammography, but would in fact be used as an adjunct to mammography.
"It is an excellent tool for locating difficult-to-detect cancers and for screening high-risk women who have normal mammograms and physical examination," she said.
The results of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).