A technique called molecular breast imaging appears to be about as accurate as MRI to detect breast cancer, but is less costly.

The findings were reported by Dr. Carrie Beth Hruska of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota at the Department of Defense’s annual Era of Hope breast cancer meeting in Baltimore.

“Molecular breast imaging is available only at the Mayo Clinic right now, but it will become more widely available soon,” Hruska said.

Molecular breast imaging, or MBI, uses injection of a radiotracer. “It has a high affinity for cancer cells,” Hruska explained, and any hot spot can be picked by a gamma camera.molecular breast imaging

She and her colleagues performed MBI and MRI in 48 women being evaluated for breast cancer, 42 of whom had suspicious areas on previous examination and 6 who were at high risk for breast cancer. A total of 54 cancers were diagnosed in 32 patients.

MRI 53 detected cancers in 31 patients, while MBI revealed 51 cancers in 30 patients. One cancer was not detectable on MRI, MBI, mammography or ultrasound.

Sixteen patients were negative for cancer after MRI and MBI. There were nine true negative findings on MRI and eight true negatives on MBI.

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