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J Nucl Med. 1993 Dec;34(12):2095-100.

A complementary role for thallium-201 scintigraphy with mammography in the diagnosis of breast cancer.

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Department of Radiology, Boston City Hospital, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts.


Physical examination and mammography are currently the only proven and reliable methods of early detection of breast cancer. Although both procedures are highly sensitive, their limited specificity often requires surgical biopsy in order to differentiate between malignant and benign lesions. The purpose of this prospective study is to investigate the diagnostic specificity of thallium imaging for breast cancer and to determine its efficacy as a complement to mammography. Two groups were studied: Group A: Patients found to have breast abnormalities and scheduled for biopsy or surgery and Group B: Patients who were suspected to have a recurrence of cancer after mastectomies or lumpectomies. In Group A, thallium scans of 32 breasts in 30 patients were performed prior to biopsy or surgery, yielding pathological diagnoses of 31 breasts in 29 patients. Results for Group A included seven true-positive thallium scans, twenty-two true-negative scans, two false-negative scans, and one false-positive scan. In Group B, seven patients were scanned to evaluate subcutaneous nodules for breast cancer following mastectomy or lumpectomy. Results for Group B included five true-positive scans, one true-negative scan, one false-negative scan and no false-positive scans. Thallium breast scanning was shown to have high specificity for cancer (specificity 96% and sensitivity 80%), suggesting that this technique should be evaluated in additional patient studies to determine its role in clinical situations.

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