Finding cancer, or confirming it’s not - The Explorer: Health

Finding cancer, or confirming it’s not

New technology at Northwest Women's Imaging provides fast answers

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Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:11 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

A breast-specific gamma imaging machine, with the ability to reveal early stages of cancer or to confirm no cancer exists, has been added to the tools at Northwest Women's Imaging, part of Northwest Medical Center.

NWI's "latest tool in the arsenal to detect and fight breast cancer" is the area's first such machine, a release said.

Use of the BSGI technology is particularly appropriate when the results of a mammogram are inconclusive, or when a woman has dense breasts, scar tissue from a previous surgery, or breast implants that may make it difficult to detect breast abnormalities, the release continued.

With BSGI, the patient receives a small amount of a tracing agent that is absorbed by cells. Cancer cells work faster than normal cells, and absorb the tracing agent at a quicker rate than normal, healthy cells. They generally appear as "dark spots" on the BSGI image.

Radiologist Dr. Gary Wood, medical directory at Northwest Women's Imaging, has focused solely on women's imaging for more than 15 years. He has more than three years' experience using BSGI in his previous practice.

"BSGI is the appropriate next step for a woman with questionable mammography results," Wood said. "No more 'wait and see' for patients. BSGI allows a more accurate determination."

Patient Rosa Molina concurs.

"When my mammogram was inconclusive, I had two options: wait for six months and have another mammogram — all the while worrying about whether I had breast cancer — or have the BSGI test at Northwest right away," Molina said. "I chose the BSGI test and it was a huge relief to know the same day that I don't have breast cancer."

The BSGI exam takes about an hour to perform. There is slight compression of the breast, and patients are seated throughout the procedure. Insurance companies generally cover BSGI, the release said.

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