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Edward-Elmhurst Health is the first health system in the Chicago area to offer patients the latest advancement in imaging for breast cancer detection. Known as molecular breast imaging (MBI), this new technology supplements mammography by helping to detect breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue and those with a higher risk for breast cancer.
Unlike other breast imaging modalities that focus on taking pictures of breast tissue, MBI looks at cellular activity within the tissue.
A patient undergoing MBI will be injected with a small amount of a molecular tracer — one that’s commonly used in cardiac stress testing. The tracer attaches to the highly active breast cancer cells and brightens them. This allows the system’s gamma camera to differentiate them from normal cells.
Medical Director of the Edward Hospital Women’s Imaging Center and diagnostic radiologist, Darius Gilvydis, M.D., says “It’s critical to have multiple tools for detecting breast cancer, as well as expertise in knowing which tool is best for which patient. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation." Molecular breast imaging is an important option for the right patients, he says.
The key message for all women 40 and older is: get screened. If you’re under 40, ask your doctor about any risk factors you might have that suggest starting screenings earlier.
“Mammography is shown to reduce breast cancer mortality through early detection,” says Dr. Gilvydis, a fellowship-trained breast specialist. “If a patient’s cancer is detected early, they have a 95 percent survival rate in five years.”
“The gold standard for detection is the digital mammogram, which can be supplemented with breast ultrasound and MRI. But traditional mammography has a limitation for those with dense breasts, a condition that describes 40 percent of women. Some lesions can go unseen because they’re hidden by dense breast tissue.
“This obstacle is especially concerning because women with dense breasts are at greater risk of breast cancer. It’s nearly as great a risk factor for the disease as family history.”
Breasts are determined to be dense if they contain less fatty tissue than dense tissue, which includes milk glands and ducts, and supportive tissue.
MBI is one of two newer technologies that can help radiologists detect these previously hidden lesions. The other is 3D digital mammography or tomosynthesis. Says Dr. Gilvydis, “With 3D, we see through and around breast tissue.”
Dr. Gilvydis says the MBI test might benefit a patient who meets one of the following criteria:
“Adding molecular breast imaging continues our tradition of adopting innovative breast imaging technologies that will most benefit our patients,” says Dr. Gilvydis.
This commitment helped the Women’s Imaging Center gain two of its key accreditations, one from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers of the American College of Surgeons, and another from the American College of Radiology as a Breast Center of Excellence.
Learn more about mammograms.
Schedule your annual screening mammogram today.
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