Back to HCC home

News article details

Hospital radiologist's study shows value of gamma imaging in detecting breast cancer

[February 20 2013] - A recent study by a Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) physician shows that breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI), when combined with mammography and ultrasound studies, is slightly more indicative of breast cancer than combined studies using mammography and ultrasound.

In December, radiologist Jean Weigert, M.D., presented two studies at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas. The initial study used data of more than 700 patients who had diagnostic mammography, ultrasound and breast-specific gamma imaging tests from HOCC, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Jefferson Hills, Pa. or Weinstein Imaging Associates in Pittsburgh.

The study found that of the 180 cancers confirmed with biopsy and surgery, earlier test results of combined BSGI, mammography and ultrasound studies yielded 177 positive cancer cases as compared to 163 with combined mammography and ultrasound studies. Also, each of these two testing combinations yielded more positive cancer findings than separate tests with BSGI, ultrasound and mammography. Another study she presented at the conference showed BSGI to have the same sensitivity as breast MRI.

BSGI can distinguish non-cancerous or benign tissue from cancer and locate lesions as small as two to three millimeters. BSGI is a non-invasive test similar to a mammogram but that uses less compression. Before imaging, patients receive an intravenous radiotracer dye. The dye reveals as a bright spot during the test if cancer is present since the dye is more easily absorbed by cancer cells, which have a higher metabolic activity.

"BSGI is very helpful in sorting out a complicated mammogram or ultrasound with great reliability," says Weigert. "If the test is negative there is a 97 percent chance that there is no cancer."

One of Weigert's earlier study findings related to breast ultrasound screenings for women whose mammograms indicate dense breasts show a potentially increased ability to diagnose breast cancers that might not have been seen on screening mammograms alone. The study was prompted by a state law requiring breast density information be included in mammography reports. Weigert also led a study on multicenter breast-specific gamma imaging.