"By optimising the camera to detect smaller breast lesions, this technique should aid in the detection of early-stage breast cancer, something that was not possible with conventional gamma cameras," says Michael O'Connor, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic radiologist.

In the study, 40 women with suspicious findings on mammogram underwent molecular breast imaging. 26 women had 36 malignant lesions confirmed at surgery. Molecular breast imaging detected 33 of the 36 lesions. In addition, four cancers were detected that were not seen on mammogram.

Stephen Phillips, M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiologist involved in the study, said the technique yielded the highest sensitivity yet reported for a gamma camera in the detection of small breast tumours (less than 1cm), reporting an 86 percent rate of detection (19 of 22 cancers).

One key feature that distinguishes this technique from mammography is that it relies on differences in the metabolic behaviour of tumours versus normal breast tissue. In contrast, mammography relies on differences in the anatomic appearance of tumours versus normal tissue, differences that can often be subtle and obscured by densities in the surrounding breast tissue.

"With molecular breast imaging, the visibility of the tumour is not influenced by the density of the surrounding tissue, so this technique is well-suited to find cancers in women whose mammograms may not be very accurate," says Douglas Collins, M.D., another Mayo Clinic radiologist.

Deborah Rhodes, M.D., a Mayo Clinic physician and lead researcher in the study, says: "We need a technique that can reliably find small breast tumours but is not impaired by dense breast tissue. Our early results suggest an important role for molecular breast imaging in filling this critical gap."

MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic