Breast-specific gamma imaging could target hard-to-detect cancers

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon
Google icon

CHICAGO—Breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) is effective in the detection of cancers not found on mammograms or by clinical exam, according to a study presented today at the 94th annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

“BSGI can identify the most difficult to detect breast cancer—invasive lobular carcinoma,” said the study’s lead author Rachel F. Brem, MD, professor of radiology and director of the Breast Imaging and Interventional Center at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “It also can help us detect additional lesions of all types of breast cancer in women whose mammograms show only one suspicious lesion.”

Breast cancer affects more women than any other non-skin cancer and, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), accounting for more than 40,000 U.S. deaths annually.

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.

“It is this physiological approach to breast cancer diagnosis that allows for improved cancer detection,” Brem said.

She and colleagues 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 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, according to the researchers.

BSGI results showed an additional suspicious lesion missed by mammography and physical exam in 29 percent of the women. In 36 percent of the 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," Brem said.

She pointed out that BSGI is not meant to replace mammography, but to 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 exam.”

Brem disclosed that she is on the board of directors of iCAD, a board member of Dilon Technologies and a consultant for Orbotech.