Saturday, February 28, 2015

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Positron Emission Mammography (PEM) in Arizona


SMIL is the first and only facility in Arizona to offer Positron Emission Mammography (PEM). It is a 3D molecular imaging exam that can detect breast cancer as small as a grain of rice.

Your doctor may refer you for a Positron Emission Mammogram if you are newly diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing radiation and/or chemotherapy or monitoring for recurrence of breast cancer. Positron Emission Mammography is a relatively new and advanced application of Positron Emission Tomography or PET scanning.

Since cancer cells absorb and accumulate sugar faster than healthy tissue, Positron Emission Mammography is able to essentially capture a “snapshot” of the cellular activity occurring within a mass or cancerous tissue by utilizing a sugar-based (glucose) radiotracer. So not only does Positron Emission Mammography reveal the size, shape and location of a suspicious mass but it also is over 90 percent accurate in identifying if the mass is cancerous.

With this information, physicians can better determine treatment options and/or surgical plans such as breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy. Also, knowing the exact location and extent of the cancer guides doctors during surgery and helps assume that they remove all suspicious tissues and thereby avoid repeat surgeries. Your doctor may also use Positron Emission Mammography to monitor treatment or to check for a recurrence of disease.

Eligible Positron Emission Mammography Patients:

  1. Patients with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer
  2. Patients undergoing radiation and/or chemotherapy for breast cancer
  3. Patients monitoring for recurrence of breast cancer

Positron Emission Mammography is typically used as a complement to breast MRI. Combined, the two studies provide the highest overall accuracy rates in sensitivity and specificity.

All patients who receive Positron Emission Mammography should have a current mammogram (within two months) for reference. The SMIL radiologist may request additional imaging such as directed mammography, breast ultrasound and breast MRI. In addition, patients should bring all prior breast imaging studies with them when they have a Positron Emission Mammography.

Your SMIL radiologist will interpret the Positron Emission Mammography study in conjunction with the available comparison breast images and history. A report will be generated for your referring physician, which will include your pertinent patient history, study method, findings, assessment and recommendations.

Positron Emission Mammography Safety

The same radioactive sugar utilized in a Positron Emission Mammography scan is routinely used for other medical imaging procedure. The radiation exposure due to the amount of radioactivity contained in the sugar injection is less than that for a CT scan. The radioactivity in the sugar fades quickly and leaves no detectable trace after 24 hours.

See your physician to discuss whether a Positron Emission Mammography study is appropriate for you.