New Diagnostic Advancement

New Diagnostic Advancement

Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) and Dense Breasts

Dense Breasts in Asians

Filipinos, as with other Asians, have dense breasts. This means that Filipino breasts are composed mostly of connective tissue (milk ducts, milk glands and supporting tissues), than fatty tissue.

The density of the breast can be determined using a mammogram. However, having dense breasts can prove to be challenging in diagnosis of breast cancer since normal dense tissue and malignant masses both appear white on mammogram.

How can the MBI detect a malignant breast tumor in patients with dense breasts?

The Molecular Breast Imaging is a new nuclear medicine technique that makes tumor cells highly visible with a special camera. The MBI gives a functional image which shows differences in tissue activity vs. a mammogram which shows only anatomic images.

A small amount of dye or tracer will be injected into the patient’s vein. This dye accumulates in malignant cells and will appear brighter than benign cells due to its high tissue activity.

Who can undergo an MBI?

  • Patients with unclear or indeterminate mammogram and/or ultrasound findings (ie. those with dense breasts).
  • Those who cannot undergo an MRI (due to claustrophobia, presence of pacemaker, allergy to gadolinium dye, high MRI cost).
  • Patients with intermediate-risk of breast cancer specifically those with a prior history of breast cancer.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

The patient will be asked to fast for 4-6 hours prior to injection of the dye.

It is preferable that the procedure take place mid-cycle from day 7-14 from the first day of menses.

The patient must not be pregnant.

What to expect

  • A small amount of dye or tracer is injected into the patient’s vein.
  • After about 5 minutes, the breast is then imaged similar to a mammogram procedure. There will be light compression of the breast and you will be asked to maintain that position for 10 minutes. The breast may be repositioned depending on quality of image.

Advantages of using the MBI

  • Faster procedure time than MRI.
  • Less costly than MRI.
  • An MBI plus a mammogram can detect as much as 4x more breast cancers than a mammogram alone.