Better breast cancer detection in South Australian first

New technology has been introduced to South Australia with the potential to save women’s lives through improved accuracy of breast cancer detection.

New technology has been introduced to South Australia with the potential to save women’s lives through improved accuracy of breast cancer detection.

In a major milestone for women’s health, Contrast Enhanced Mammography (CEM) has been brought to the state by Benson Radiology. This technology was previously only available interstate.

CEM uses iodinated contrast dye to increase the information acquired during a routine mammogram, by highlighting abnormal blood flow to lesions, which can lead to earlier diagnosis of breast cancer.

Benson Radiology radiologist, Dr Shan Bau, said Contrast Enhanced Mammography could provide women, especially those with dense breast tissue, with earlier detection of breast cancer.

It’s estimated that 1 in 2 women aged between 45 and 70-years-old have dense breast tissue, which can only be assessed by having a mammogram, and is unrelated to the look, feel or size of breasts.

“Dense breast tissue increases the risk of breast cancer but also reduces the sensitivity of routine mammography, as the cancers, particularly if small, are obscured by the breast tissue,” Dr Bau said.

“This can potentially lead to lesions being missed and a delay in diagnosis.

“This form of imaging has been shown to be as accurate as MRI for lesion detection. CEM is also lower in cost, better tolerated and shorter in scan time compared to MRI. It can be an alternative for women who are unable to have an MRI due to underlying medical conditions, including having a metallic implant/pacemaker or claustrophobia.

“Women are becoming more aware of their breast health and their breast tissue density, and this technology will provide them with greater peace of mind.

“CEM is increasingly being used overseas and interstate, so we’re pleased to be the first to bring this technology to South Australia.

“Women who concerned about their breasts or want a more accurate screening should discuss their suitability for CEMs with their clinician”.

From a patient’s perspective, a CEM examination is similar to a routine mammogram, with the main difference being the injection of contrast dye into the arm. The mammographer then performs the standard four views conducted during a routine mammogram. The same level of breast compression is required.

CEMs take approximately the same time as a routine mammogram, with the total examination lasting 30 minutes. Results are available to the referring clinician within normal timeframes.

CEMs are performed at Benson Radiology’s North Adelaide clinic, where a fully comprehensive breast service catered to the individual is available.

The current out of pocket cost for a CEM is $250, with no current Medicare rebate available.

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