By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Clinic has joined with Gamma Medica Inc. — a company that works to improve early detection of breast cancer — to introduce the LumaGEM Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) system, which was displayed Tuesday at a presentation outside the Erdman Lobby in Marshfield. The MBI system is installed on a mobile medical unit, which a press release from Marshfield Clinic said will create “the world’s first mobile MBI service.”
The mobile MBI unit will provide care across the state at Marshfield Clinic’s Marshfield, Eau Claire, Minocqua, Rice Lake, and Wausau sites.
Dr. James Kinsella, a radiologist at Marshfield Clinic, said that while MBI technology is not new, making the test common clinical practice and giving it mobile capability is. The MBI testing takes place in a trailer that has a small waiting room and the MBI equipment inside of it.
Kinsella said that MBI is a way to look at the physiology of the breast, rather than simply taking a picture like a mammogram.
“The reason that’s important is especially in patients who have dense breasts or high density of tissue in their breasts, small masses, small cancers can be hard to detect on mammography alone,” Kinsella said. He later added, “When we look at the physiology on the molecular level, breast cancer acts very differently, and so this test (MBI) is testing that — how the breast cancer acts on a physiologic level versus just taking a picture of the anatomy.”
For women with dense breast tissue, the release said that adding MBI testing, “results in a nearly 400 percent increase in invasive breast cancer detection rates, 50 percent reduction in biopsies, and a subsequent 15 percent lower cost per cancer detected than screening with mammography alone.”
Early detection, Kinsella said, could lower costs by decreasing the long-term treatment burden on the patient but could also reduce the amount of testing needed.
“We’re trying to lower the cost in a big picture sort of way,” Kinsella said.
Kinsella noted that MBI testing would not replace mammograms but would rather be used to complement them.
“Mammography still has its strengths, and there are certain types of early breast cancer that will show up a little better on a mammogram, and so it’s more of a, ‘How do we personalize the technology we have for a specific individual patient?’ rather than every patient gets the same test,” Kinsella said. “We are trying to be at the forefront of individualizing care for that specific patient.”