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Health Officials: BSGI Breast Cancer Scan is Easier, Less Expensive

Posted October 31, 2007

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— Mammography is still the standard in breast cancer screening, but some patients's results can be difficult to interpret.

In other cases, a patient’s cancer risk is greater, so doctors want more detail. They might turn to an MRI, but a scan called “Breast Specific Gama Imaging,” or BSGI, is easier and less expensive, according to health officials.

The possibility of breast cancer is always on 41-year-old Yvette Rebolloso's mind. Her older sister died from the disease.

She gets regular mammograms, but her dense breast tissue makes them difficult to read.

“I can't detect anything out of the ordinary because it all feels lumpy,” Rebolloso said.

She went to Wake Radiology for a BSGI. After an injection of a radio isotope, patients who get a BSGI sit down in front of something that looks similar to a mammography machine.

“They're only under mild compression, not as much compression as you use in a mammogram,” said Dr. Richard Bird, a breast-imaging specialist.

Mammograms show actual breast tissue, Bird said. BSGI shows metabolic action in tissue that absorbs the radio isotope.

A normal BSGI exam shows all gray. If there’s a lesion, a dark spot can be seen.

“It's concentrated in areas that have particularly high metabolic activity,” Bird said.

A biopsy will prove if something seen in the scan is cancer.

Bird said MRI is the best choice for patients at very high risk of breast cancer, or a recurrence of cancer or for determining the stage of the disease.

BSGI is a good choice for patients at moderate risk – or women like Rebolloso with difficult to read mammograms.

A big advantage is cost.

“The cost of the examination is about 20 percent of the cost of a breast MRI,” Bird said.

Rebolloso got her results right away – and they were negative.

“It put my mind at ease,” she said.

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