Results from molecular breast imaging study presented at international conference

Breast screening using mammography has relatively low sensitivity to cancer in dense breast tissue1,2. A small number of retrospective studies have shown a potential alternative, nuclear medicine test Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI), to have a higher sensitivity in this group3,4, but the technology is not currently available in the UK. Perceptions of MBI among UK stakeholders (including patients, radiologists, technologists, and regulatory bodies) are unknown and are key to understanding the value of, and route to, adoption.

In an Innovate UK funded project, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NuTH) are working in collaboration with local SME, Kromek, to undertake care pathway analysis and qualitative research to explore these unknowns. Earlier in the project, the multidisciplinary team blogged about their win in the Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine category at the Academic Health Science Network in the North East and North Cumbria’s 2019 Bright Ideas in Health Awards.

Early results, which are live on the ePoster stack from the online 2021 Symposium Mammographicum conference here, show scan time needs to be minimised, mobile MBI services are unfeasible and several different patient populations may benefit from MBI. The conference aims to play a leading national and international role in advancing technological and clinical sciences related to breast imaging.

NuTH presented these early findings to Kromek in October 2020:

Thank you very much for a fantastic presentation and a good piece of work. It is absolutely delightful for Kromek to be involved in something which is so basic to healthcare. It’s very easy to fill a presentation with equations and hardware and it looks like a lot of hard work; getting to talk to people and collecting information is equally tough or tougher. It’s well appreciated what you’ve done, and very exciting, we must use the information.

Ian Radley, Technical and Operations Director at Kromek

The next phase of research is underway, building on and expanding the themes outlined in the poster. Recruitment of stakeholders is underway for the study and involvement consists of one, hour-long interview. The team are looking for surgeons, radiologists and academics with an interest in this area for the staff interviews. Patient and public interviews are underway as well and the team are keen for anyone with an interest to contact them. Please get in touch with Helen (details below) for an initial, informal conversation if you are interested in taking part.

Helen Elliott (, Research Scientist, 0191 282 4415.


  1. KIM, B. S., MOON, B. I. & CHA, E. S. 2012. A comparative study of breast-specific gamma imaging with the conventional imaging modality in breast cancer patients with dense breasts. Ann Nucl Med, 26, 823-9.
  2. KOLB, T. M., LICHY, J. & NEWHOUSE, J. H. 2002. Comparison of the Performance of Screening Mammography, Physical Examination, and Breast US and Evaluation of Factors that Influence Them: An Analysis of 27,825 Patient Evaluations. Radiology, 225, 165-175.
  3. RHODES, D. J., HRUSKA, C. B., CONNERS, A. L., TORTORELLI, C. L., MAXWELL, R. W., JONES, K. N., TOLEDANO, A. Y. & O’CONNOR, M. K. 2015. Molecular breast imaging at reduced radiation dose for supplemental screening in mammographically dense breasts. American Journal of Roentgenology, 204, 241-251.
  4. ROSENBERG, R. D., HUNT, W. C., WILLIAMSON, M. R., GILLILAND, F. D., WIEST, P. W., KELSEY, C. A., KEY, C. R. & LINVER, M. N. 1998. Effects of age, breast density, ethnicity, and estrogen replacement therapy on screening mammographic sensitivity and cancer stage at diagnosis: review of 183,134 screening mammograms in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Radiology, 209, 511-8.