High mammographic breast density is the primary reason for missed cancers or delayed detection on mammography, and is associated with a higher rate of advanced and interval cancers which increase breast cancer mortality. Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) has been shown to reduce false positive findings relative to 2D mammography but does not eliminate the potential for tumor masking in dense breasts due to the similar x-ray attenuation characteristics of tumors and normal fibroglandular tissue. Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) performed with a dedicated gamma camera to detect functional uptake of a radiotracer, Tc-99m sestamibi, has been shown to reveal breast cancers obscured by density on mammography. In single-institution studies, adding MBI to 2D mammography in women with dense breasts detected an additional 5 to10 invasive cancers per 1000 screened, with modest increases in recall rate (6 to 8%) at a lower cost-per-cancer detected than mammography alone. Despite this promising evidence, the lack of multicenter trial data has limited wider acceptance. Also, MBI has yet to be compared to DBT, which in some centers has replaced 2D mammography screening. We present interim results from a multicenter trial comparing cancer detection rate of DBT and MBI in screening of women with mammographically dense breasts.


In this ongoing, prospective, multicenter clinical trial, asymptomatic women aged 40-75 years with dense breasts on prior mammogram and no prior history of supplemental screening are invited to undergo two annual rounds of concurrent DBT and MBI. MBI is performed with injection of 300 MBq Tc-99m sestamibi with a dual-head semiconductor-based gamma camera. Screening tests are interpreted independently. Here, preliminary cancer detection rates (cancers per 1000 women screened), recall rates, and biopsy rates of DBT and MBI for initial screening are reported.


In 537 women out of a planned 3000 who have completed the first round of screening, 7 cancers were detected: one by DBT only and 6 by MBI only, giving cancer detection rates of 1.9 for DBT vs. 11.2 for MBI and incremental cancer detection rate of 9.3 for MBI. The one DBT-only cancer was a node-negative 0.8 cm invasive lobular carcinoma. All 6 cancers detected by MBI were invasive; 5 of 6 were node negative (median size 1.0 cm; range 0.6 to 2.6 cm). Recall rate was 11% (60/537) for DBT alone; 16% (84/537) for MBI alone, and 21% (115/537) for the combination. Biopsy was prompted by DBT in 13 patients (PPV 8% [1/13]); by MBI in 23 patients (PPV 26% [6/23]); and by the combination of modalities in 33 (PPV 21% [7/33]).


These preliminary results demonstrate that MBI detects invasive breast cancers occult on DBT in dense breasts. Data from a second screening round will allow calculation of sensitivity and specificity, and determination of the impact of screening MBI in reducing advanced (> 2 cm) and interval cancers. Additional planned analyses will evaluate a denoising algorithm for further reduction in MBI radiation dose to match that of DBT.

Citation Format: Rhodes D, Hunt K, Conners A, Zingula S, Whaley D, Ellis R, Gasal Spilde J, Mehta R, Polley M-Y, O'Connor M, Hruska C. Molecular breast imaging and tomosynthesis to eliminate the reservoir of undetected cancer in dense breasts: The Density MATTERS trial [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; 2018 Dec 4-8; San Antonio, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2019;79(4 Suppl):Abstract nr PD4-05.