Comparison of Accuracy of Scintimammography and X-ray Mammography in the Diagnosis of Primary Breast Cancer in Patients Selected for Surgical Biopsy

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Mammography, whilst remaining the first line imaging investigation of suspected primary breast cancer, can be difficult to interpret in patients with fibrous or dense breasts. Radionuclide imaging of the breast (scintimammography) has been suggested as an additional test. The aim of this study was to perform prospectively a comparison of the two techniques in a population with suspected breast cancer. Seventy such patients, mean age 54 years (range 57 years, 28-85) with 74 suspicious breast lesions were studied. They were imaged 5-10 min after intravenous injection of 740 MBq of Tc-99m sestamibi. Prone lateral and anterior supine views with and without markers were performed. All patients had histological confirmation of the nature of the breast lesions by limited incisional biopsy or definitive wide local excision, or cytological confirmation on fine needle aspiration. All patients had X-ray mammography. There were 53 malignant breast tumours and 21 benign lesions. Scintimammography correctly diagnosed 47 breast cancers, and yielded true-negative results in 12 benign breast lesions. There were six cases of false-negative results and nine false-positive results. Four scans were reported as equivocal. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) were 89%, 52%, 84% and 67%, respectively. X-ray mammography diagnosed correctly 37 malignant tumours, and in 12 benign lesions the results were true negatives. Ten studies were reported as equivocal. The sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV were 70%, 57%, 80% and 43%, respectively. The accuracy of Tc-99m sestamibi scintimammography was better than X-ray mammography though this was not significant (McNemar's test). Fewer equivocal results were obtained with scintimammography. Scintimammography may therefore have a role in the diagnosis of primary breast cancer when X-ray mammography is equivocal or unhelpful.

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