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Table 1 Molecular imaging for breast cancer

From: Advances in molecular imaging for breast cancer detection and characterization

Modality Indication Advantages Disadvantages
Radionuclide imaging    
Positron emission tomography Detection Wide range of molecular imaging probes Limited spatial resolution (improved with use of non-contrast computed tomography)
  Response evaluation
Tumor characterization
Tracer imaging without perturbing biologic system  
    Some radiation exposure
Positron emission
Tumor characterization
More sensitive for smaller tumors
Higher spatial resolution
Increased radiation dose
Visualization of posterior lesions
Variable uptake of
18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) in small
and less metabolically active tumors
Breast-specific gamma imaging Detection More sensitive for smaller tumors
Heavy compression of breast tissue
not required
Associated with radiation exposure
Best combined with anatomic imaging
(mammography) for optimal screening Longer imaging time
    Some radiation exposure
Magnetic resonance    
Magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI), especially dynamic
contrast-enhanced MRI and
targeted contrast agents
Tumor characterization Quantification of tumor perfusion
and tumor capillary permeability
Confined space
Contrast design limited by need for
magnetic atom
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy Tumor characterization Can measure wide range of molecules
No contrast necessary
Limited spatial resolution
Challenging to obtain high-quality
spectra in routine imaging
Ultrasound, especially with
contrast enhancement
Tumor characterization
Highly portable, inexpensive
Molecular microbubble agents possible
Operator dependence
Contrast agents confined to vascular
space thus far
Optical imaging Tumor characterization Inexpensive, highly portable, and does
not necessarily require a contrast agent
Limited depth penetration, challenging
spatial localization, and operator