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Marshfield Clinic: New advanced imaging to improve breast cancer detection

Sept. 20 2016​

​​​​​New breast imaging technology now available at Marshfield Clinic makes it possible to find breast cancer more easily so more women have a better chance of recovery.​​

Mammography is the main test used to screen for breast cancer in women who have no known history of cancer. Conventional mammograms are two-dimensional images taken of the breast.

"Basic screening mammograms decrease mortality, but they aren't perfect," said Dr. Kristie Guite​, a Marshfield Clinic radiologist who specializes in mammography. "For that reason, Marshfield Clinic now offers three-dimensional (3-D) mammography and molecular breast imaging (MBI). These are advanced imaging techniques that improve detection and treatment of breast cancer."

Marshfield Clinic now recommends 3-D mammography for all women, performed at the same time as traditional 2-D mammograms. The added test takes only a few extra seconds to capture this image.

"Looking at smaller sections of breast tissue allows us to more easily detect breast cancer in all women, but even more so in younger women under age 50 and women with dense breast tissue," Guite said. "This 3-D mammogram technology allows us to detect breast cancer when it's smaller, in an earlier stage and easier to treat in all women."

This new technology also results in fewer false-positive results. About 10 percent of women must return for more imaging after basic screening mammograms. Although 99 percent of patients who return for imaging don't have cancer or a breast abnormality, the experience is stressful.

"The 3-D imaging reduces the number of patients who have to come back for additional imaging by 40 percent," Guite said. "It saves them from having to go through the anxiety of more testing."

The other recent advance in mammography – MBI – finds more cancers. MBI calls for injecting a small amount of radioactive material into the bloodstream. Cancer cells in the breast take up more of the radioactive material than normal breast tissue, which allows doctors to locate small tumors.

"It finds two to three times as many cancers than regular or 3-D mammography," Guite said. "The likelihood of missing a breast cancer is almost none."

MBI isn't a replacement for mammography and not all patients need it, she said. Women who have dense breast tissue, family history of breast cancer or personal history of non-cancerous breast tissue biopsies are ideal candidates for MBI.

Doctors can use molecular imaging to check effectiveness of chemotherapy, develop surgical plans and scan patients who are unable to have a breast MRI.

Medicare provides coverage for the cost of a 3-D mammogram and other patients should check with their health insurance carrier prior to any appointment about coverage for these additional advanced tests, according to Michele Butalla, Marshfield Clinic Regional Radiology manager.  For fee information for an MBI test, call Patient Financial Services, 1-800-782-8581.

Marshfield Clinic Mobile Imaging offers MBI at the Clinic's Eau Claire, Marshfield, Minocqua and Wausau centers as well as Lakeview Medical Center in Rice Lake while 3-D mammography is available at Clinic centers in Wausau, Eau Claire, Minocqua, Marshfield and Chippewa Falls and Lakeview Medical Center. For more information, talk with your primary doctor or visit


Marshfield Clinic provides patient care, research and education with more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.​

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