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Gamma Camera Spots More Tumors in High-Risk Women: Ask About It
By Marilynn Larkin
The largest study to date of a new screening technique called molecular breast imaging (MBI) suggests the method can detect three times as many cancers in women who have both dense breasts and an increased risk of cancer. MBI involves injecting patients with a radioactive agent and then using a special camera to project a clear image of any tumors. The study, from the Mayo Clinic, used an MBI camera unique to their facility, but a similar version of MBI screening is performed in about 80 other centers.
Commenting on the study in a media briefing, Eric Winer, MD, director of the breast oncology center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, observed that, for breast screening: “Mammography is the best tool we have. But it is not a perfect tool, and we clearly need to have better [ones].” Susan K. Boolbol, MD, chief of breast surgery at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, tells MAMM that while mammograms remain the “gold standard,” the MBI—which Beth Israel offers—is useful for high-risk women with dense breasts.
Mayo Clinic lead study author Carrie B. Hruska, PhD, acknowledges in a statement that larger trials are needed to validate the findings, but she adds that “it is encouraging to find that MBI can detect cancers that are not easily visible on screening mammography.”