Molecular breast imaging is a test that uses a radioactive tracer and special camera to find breast cancer.
Rather than simply taking a picture of a breast, molecular breast imaging is a type of functional imaging. This means the pictures it creates show differences in the activity of the tissue. Tissue that contains cells that are rapidly growing and dividing, such as cancer cells, appears brighter than less active tissue.
During molecular breast imaging, a small amount of radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. The tracer attaches to breast cancer cells that can then be detected using a camera that detects the gamma radiation released by the tracer (gamma camera).
Molecular breast imaging is a new technology, so it isn't yet widely available.
Feb. 08, 2017
- AskMayoExpert. Molecular breast imaging. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Nuclear Medicine Procedure Manual. Tumor: Molecular breast imaging scan. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Rhodes DJ, et al. Molecular breast imaging at reduced radiation dose for supplemental screening in mammographically dense breasts. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2015;204:241.
- Holbrook A, et al. Alternative screening for women with dense breasts: Breast-specific gamma imaging (molecular breast imaging). American Journal of Roentgenology. 2015;204:252.
- Scintimammography. RadiologyInfo.org. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=scintimammo. Accessed Feb. 24, 2015.
- 510(k) clearances. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DeviceApprovalsandClearances/510kClearances/default.htm. Accessed Jan. 11, 2017.