Infographic: Molecular Breast Imaging

Molecular Breast Imaging

Improved cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue.

Dense breast tissue may hide breast cancers on mammograms. Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) reveals it.

A radiologist checks for signs of cancer. On this mammogram, a breast cancer appears as a white mass in a background of normal fatty tissue, which appears black.

40% of women have dense breast tissue that may obscure breast cancers on mammograms. Fibroglandular tissue, or dense breast tissue, also appears white on a mammogram and thus can obscure detection of breast cancers.

MBI is a new breast imaging technique that uses gamma cameras to find cancers missed by mammography in dense breasts. MBI is offered in addition to mammography.

How Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) works.

  1. Patients receive an injection of a radiotracer.
  2. Invasive breast cancers absorb more of the radiotracer than breast tissue, illuminating them for detection.
  3. A special gamma camera detects areas where the radiotracer has been absorbed.
  4. Pictures from the gamma camera show tumors as bright areas.

MBI + Mammography finds nearly 4x more breast cancers than mammography alone.

In a Mayo Clinic study, from a sample size of over 2,500 women with dense breast tissue:

32 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

21 were detected by MBI only

5 were detected by both mammograms and MBI

3 were detected by mammogram only

3 were missed by both mammograms and MBI

When MBI was added to mammography, an additional 21 women had breast cancer detected, for a total of 32 women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Sources:; (PMID: 25615744; 21045179).