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Nuclear Medicine Breast Imaging

Posted Nov 23 2009 12:00am
In attempts to improve breast cancer screening methods, scientists have been exploring nuclear medicine breast imaging.  The current state of research into nuclear medicine breast imaging was discussed in the Fall 2009 issue of the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) Newsletter.  According to an article in the SBI newsletter, three nuclear medicine breast imaging techniques show promise:  breast specific gamma imaging, positron emission mammography, and molecular breast imaging.  According to the article, these techniques have a number of benefits including:
  • High sensitivity for detecting breast cancer
  • Specificity slightly better than magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Capable of detecting very small atypical & non-invasive breast lesions
  • Appears to be better than mammography for screening patients with dense breast tissue
  • Is well received by patients
  • Cost is usually less than MRI
  • Less compression than mammography
Despite these benefits, there is still some work to be done to make these techniques ready for prime time.   Some of the current limitations with these techniques include:
  • It takes 40-60 minutes to complete the imaging process
  • Radiation dose currently is slightly more than what is used for mammography and is distributed throughout the body
  • A standardized system of reporting and interpretation still needs to be developed
This ongoing breast cancer research is exciting and offers important improvements in breast cancer screening.  While it is clear that more needs to be done before these nuclear medicine breast imaging techniques become ready for regular use, the future use of these techniques look promising.  Improvements like these in breast screening methods offers the possibility of earlier detection, which can lead to an increase in lives saved.

While scientists and physicians keep making new discoveries and developing new and better methods of detecting early breast cancer, we can all make important lifestyle changes to reduce breast risk.  To find out more about the kind of dietary changes you can make, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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