NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Aug. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Radiation in any form brings risk. Medical radiation as a screening, diagnostic or treatment tool is designed with safeguards in mind to minimize the risk and maximize the benefit of the test or treatment. For instance, if a patient presents with a breast lump that can be felt but not viewed with mammography or ultrasound, medical professionals must employ the most appropriate diagnostic tools that identify potential cancer. By not doing so, the risk of missing cancers can be deadly.
Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI) is a molecular breast-imaging exam that reveals metabolic activity, which is useful in the diagnostic work-up of a patient with suspected breast cancer. BSGI works on a cellular level that, with the aid of a radiopharmaceutical, identifies areas of increased activity that may indicate disease. BSGI is a complementary tool to mammography (an anatomical exam). In essence, mammography shows what the breast looks like and BSGI shows activity of the breast tissue.
A recent article in the journal Radiology by R. Edward Hendrick, Ph.D., makes a dubious comparison regarding the dose of radiation screening mammography (X-ray) to the radiation used in advanced diagnostic tools, such as BSGI and positron emission mammography (PEM). Dr. James Johnston, Professor of Radiologic Science at Midwestern State University in Texas notes that while this article provides important facts and useful information, the primary message should be one of appropriate use and not condemning any one modality based on an apples and oranges comparison.
As stated in the article, "a single BSGI or PEM is comparable in terms of dose and lifetime risk of cancer induction to a single chest, abdominal, or pelvic CT examination," which are ordered thousands of times each day in the U.S. Furthermore, the same radiopharmaceuticals used in BSGI and PEM studies are used in many other nuclear medicine exams every day such as cardiac stress tests and bone scans, in similar or higher radiation doses. And as Dr. Hendrick noted in the Radiology article, in most cases the balance of risk to benefit favors the use of imaging, but it is up to the patient in consultation with the physician to make an informed decision.BSGI has led to the detection of countless breast cancers in patients across the U.S. and around the world. Many of these cancers were missed by mammography and ultrasound. BSGI is a recognized medical procedure that utilizes a radiopharmaceutical approved by the FDA, with guidelines for use by the Society of Nuclear Medicine, specifically, "Procedure Guidelines for Breast Scintigraphy with Breast-Specific Gamma Cameras."