In 2008, the National Cancer Institute estimated that 182,460 women would be diagnosed with breast cancer during the year. A recent study shows that women facing a recent breast cancer diagnosis may find additional cancer in the same or opposite breast with further testing using Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging.

Published in the February 2009 American Journal of Surgery, findings demonstrated that BSGI detected additional or more extensive breast cancer in the same or opposite breast in 10.9 percent of newly diagnosed patients.

Nathalie Johnson, M.D., general surgeon and surgical oncologist at Good Samaritan Hospital, Portland, Ore, and researchers retrospectively reviewed the cases of 138 patients (69 invasive ductal carcinoma, 20 invasive lobular carcinoma, 32 ductal carcinoma in situ, and 17 mixtures of invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, or ductal carcinoma in situ and other) who had BSGI performed as part of the imaging work-up from one of two Portland, Ore., community-based breast imaging centers.

Twenty-five patients, or 18.1%, had a positive BSGI study for cancer at a site other than their known cancer, or more extensive disease than was detected from previous imaging. Fifteen patients, 10.9%, were positive for a synchronous or more extensive cancer in the same or opposite breast. Five patients had benign findings on pathology, and five benign on ultrasound follow-up, with a false-positive rate of 7.2%.

The findings converted seven patients to mastectomy and one patient to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Furthermore, seven patients were found to have previously undetected contralateral cancer.

The positive predictive value for BSGI was 92.9%.

Researchers concluded that BSGI offers accurate evaluation of remaining breast tissue in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with few false-positive readings.

Johnson noted that BSGI has comparable sensitivity, but superior specificity, when compared to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

The full study can be found in The American Journal of Surgery, Vol 197, No 2, February 2009.