Diagnostic imaging, mammography  

Advanced breast cancer diagnosis system installed in Washington hospital

9 February 2005

CENTRALIA, Wash, USA. Providence Centralia Hospital is the first health care facility in Washington to use breast specific gamma imaging — the most technologically advanced method of detecting breast cancer that's presently available.

Also known as BSGI, breast specific gamma imaging is a useful diagnostic technique when women have questionable mammograms. The method alleviates long, emotionally trying wait times involved in the diagnosis process. BSGI also can reduce the number of invasive biopsies.

"BSGI a is quicker, less emotionally trying and less physically traumatic method of detecting breast cancer if a woman has a questionable mammogram," said John Viglo, manager of emergency and imaging services at Providence Centralia Hospital. "Mammography does remain the primary method of early detection, but BSGI is the best next step if mammogram results are unclear."

A questionable mammogram means that it's difficult for the physician to conclusively diagnose cancer based on the image. Questionable mammograms can result for a variety of reasons, including the presence of dense breast tissue, scar tissue or implants.

Traditionally, if women have questionable mammograms, a radiologist usually orders a follow-up mammogram — sometimes up to six months after the original exam. The radiologist may also order a biopsy of the questionable area. Biopsies are invasive surgical procedures that take time to analyze and can leave scars.

Yet most abnormalities on a mammogram are not breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Before BSGI, women had to go through the anxiety and fear of a follow-up mammogram and biopsy when often there was no breast cancer present, Viglo said.

"With the BSGI, there's no more 'wait and see,'" Viglo said. "A radiologist can immediately interpret results. Women who don't have breast cancer don't have to endure the emotional aspects of follow-up mammograms and biopsies, and women who do have breast cancer will know sooner and can begin receiving treatment."

Unlike mammograms, which image the breast's structure and density, BSGI provides a view of tissue at a cellular level. This detailed picture allows for easy differentiation of cancer from other non-cancerous tissue in the breast.

BSGI is performed using a special unit known as the Dilon 6800. A small amount of tracing agent is injected into the patient's arm or foot, and all cells in the body absorb the tracer. Because cancerous cells have a higher rate of metabolic activity, the tracer concentrates in these cells to a much greater degree than normal cells. The tracing agent emits invisible rays, which allows the Dilon 6800 to detect cancerous cells. The technique can detect small tumors and early-stage tumors that would be difficult or impossible to read on a mammogram.

Other hospitals in Washington and along the West Coast are currently in the process of purchasing the Dilon 6800.

Source: Providence Centralia Hospital

CONTACT: Stacie Beck, Public Relations, of Providence Centralia
Hospital, +1-360-330-8535 (office), or +1-360-330-3125 (pager), or

Web site: http://www.providence.org/swsa


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