A new way of doing mammography

July 24, 2013 1:54:13 PM PDT
Finding breast cancers fast is the goal of both women and their doctors. Now, a new twist on the standard mammogram may replace more expensive and complicated tests.

Reading mammograms on women with dense or cystic breasts is often a problem, as the breast tissue often hides cancers. A breast MRI may be the next step, but there may be a faster and less expensive way. It's called CESM, and it adds just one step to standard mammography.

"It just shows you what's abnormal, not what's normal. It's almost more sensitive than an MRI for the detection of breast cancer, but it doesn't give you as many false positives," Dr. Kristin Byrne of Lenox Hill/North Shore-LIJ Hospital, said.

For women like Lynette Bosco, who was told she had an abnormal breast sonogram.

"The expectation was that it would come back normal as it always was, and when it came back something else it was shocking," she said.

The CESM mammogram answered her concerns right after the test, instead of waiting days for MRI results.

"We were able to get answers immediately that my situation was not as bad as we had feared," Bosco said.

Also, MRI's can't be done in women who have pacemakers, who are overweight, or who are having their menstrual period and it sometimes takes a month to schedule that MRI.

CESM involves injecting the patient with material that especially outlines the blood vessel in the cancer.

CESM is cheaper than MRI, and some insurances won't even pay for breast MRI's. CESM found breast cancer in Nona Lopez, and gave her what she needed to deal with it.

"A, I'm not wasting time. B, I'll get results. So my anxiety level decreased into confidence," Lopez said.

There are no large studies showing directly comparing CESM studies to those of MRI's, but if future studies are in keeping with current statistics, CESM studies may find a firm place in the diagnosis and care of breast cancer patients.