Dense breast tissue can mask cancers on standard screening mammograms. “As many as 25% of cancers can be missed,” says Barry Rosen, MD, a breast cancer surgeon at Advocate Good Shepherd Breast Care Center in Barrington. “Every woman with dense breasts should have additional screening beyond mammography.”
A newer technique, molecular breast imaging (MBI) can help distinguish tumors in dense breasts otherwise masked by tissue. With MBI, a specialist injects a small amount of radioactive tracer that attaches to breast cancer cells and shows up on imaging.
Compared to mammography and ultrasound, it causes less uncertainty, says Sumit Chhadia, MD, a radiologist at Advocate Good Shepherd, which plans to start using MBI in 2021. “It gives us a little more cut-and-dried answer of whether it’s suspicious and should be pursued or let go and considered benign.”
Ultimately, the goal is to match patients with the appropriate screening regimen, based on risk factors and breast tissue density.