Women’s Wellness: Molecular Breast Imaging

From Mayo Clinic News Network
Mayo Clinic News Network

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Molecular breast imaging, when combined with a breast X-ray (mammogram), detects more breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue than a mammogram alone.

Mayo Clinic News Network

Molecular breast imaging is a test that uses a radioactive tracer and special camera to find breast cancer.

Rather than simply taking a picture of a breast, molecular breast imaging is a type of functional imaging. This means the pictures it creates show differences in the activity of the tissue. Tissue that contains cells that are rapidly growing and dividing, such as cancer cells, appears brighter than less active tissue.

During molecular breast imaging, a small amount of radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. The tracer attaches to breast cancer cells that can then be detected using a camera that detects the gamma radiation released by the tracer (gamma camera).

Molecular breast imaging is a new technology, so it isn’t yet widely available.
___
Why it’s done

Molecular breast imaging may be used to:

-Screen for breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue. Molecular breast imaging, when combined with a breast X-ray (mammogram), detects more breast cancers in women with dense breast tissue than a mammogram alone. Typically, if you and your doctor decide you will have molecular breast imaging, it is done every other year along with an annual mammogram. Breast tissue is composed of milk glands, milk ducts and supportive tissue (dense breast tissue), and fatty tissue. Women with dense breasts have more dense breast tissue than fatty tissue. Both dense breast tissue and cancers appear white on a mammogram, which may make breast cancer more difficult to detect in a woman with dense breasts. Studies show combining molecular breast imaging and a mammogram results in finding 3 times more breast cancers than a mammogram alone. Molecular breast imaging has Food and Drug Administration clearance, which is an acceptance for lower-risk medical devices, and there is evidence of its benefits in detecting cancers in women with dense breasts.

Related News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *