Molecular Breast Imaging now an option in La Crosse

A new way to screen for breast cancer is now available at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse.

And it’s improving detection of cancer in a number of ways.

Molecular Breast Imaging, otherwise known as MBI, was first developed at Mayo Clinic in Rochester to improve breast cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue.

Unlike getting a typical Mammogram every six months, doctors say MBI is proving to be more reliable when it comes to screening for breast cancer.

Clinical Breast Radiologist Richard Ellis says there are three main ways women screen for breast cancer.

“Monthly self breast exam, number two, clinical breast exam by your referring health care provider and screening mammography.”

But Dr. Ellis says despite the three methods, it’s still difficult to detect breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue.

That’s why molecular breast imaging was developed.

Dr. Ellis says there is an overall difference in both the technology and the physics when comparing MBI to mammography.

“The technology for mammography uses x-rays, the technology for molecular breast imaging uses a different form of imaging in whereby we inject a small amount of material that is radioactive into your vein.”

The material then makes its way to highly active tissue like breast cancer.

37-year-old Amanda Kubista Owen has been getting mammograms every six months since she was in her mid twenties.

As someone with a high risk of breast cancer and dense tissue, she says MBI is right for her.

“When I went to the informational session on mammograms, they’re only 40 percent accurate, I thought that was quite low odds to have a test that was quite uncomfortable, so I’m looking forward to something that has better detection and more comfort.”

Doctors say the cancer detection rate with molecular breast imaging is much higher than with mammography.

They learned for women with dense breast tissue, instead of only finding five cancers per thousand women, they are identifying between 12 and 13 cancers per thousand, which they say is a significant increase compared to screening mammography.