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New Breast Imaging Technology at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Gives Clearer Picture of Cancer
11/02/2009

ARLINGTON, Texas — A picture is worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t always tell the full story.

While mammograms remain the gold standard for detecting abnormalities in the breast, the detailed X-ray images don’t always confirm whether the lesions are cancerous.

Breast-specific gamma imaging, a new imaging technique at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital used in conjunction with mammography, helps differentiate cancerous cells from healthy ones by revealing their metabolic activity. The test delivers rapid results to the patient with over 95 percent accuracy, according to a June 2008 study published by the Radiological Society of North America.

"Breast-specific gamma imaging is unique because it shows us the physiology of the breast instead of its architecture, so we’re actually able to pick up on the activity of abnormal cells,” said Dr. Kory Jones, medical director of the breast program at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. “It’s a great adjunct test for certain patient populations that have difficult-to-read mammograms, such as young women with dense breast tissue.”

During the procedure, patients are injected with a pharmaceutical tracing agent that is absorbed by all the cells in the body. Cancerous cells in the breast absorb a greater amount of the tracing agent than normal, healthy cells due to their higher rate of metabolic activity. The diseased cells appear as “hot spots” on the image.

Patients with inconclusive mammograms, a high-risk of breast cancer, breast implants, or scarring from a previous surgery will benefit from the test, Jones said. It’s also a great alternative for people who can’t tolerate an MRI.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among women in Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Detecting cancer early is important for treatment and survival, so eliminating the wait time for additional testing is key for patients, said Linda Wren, R.T., the hospital’s manager of radiology.

“Often patients with a questionable mammogram are asked to wait up to six months to repeat the test and find out if cancer is present,” Wren said. “That’s very stressful for people, because time means everything when it comes to treating breast cancer. Breast-specific gamma imaging can offer our patients some peace of mind.”

About Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital
Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital is a 417-bed acute-care, full-service medical center serving Arlington and the surrounding communities since 1958. The hospital’s services include comprehensive cardiac care, women’s services, orthopedics, an advanced imaging center and emergency services. Texas Health Arlington Memorial is an affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Arlington.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 14 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, and Texas Health Presbyterian, and an organization for medical research and education. Texas Health Organization for Physicians and Texas Health Physicians Group provide a variety of models for engagement with physicians. Texas Health Partners is a joint venture development and management company owned by Texas Health Resources. Texas Health MedSynergies is a joint venture that offers physicians a range of office management and other business services to support their practices. Texas Health is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.

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