Direct-Conversion Molecular Breast Imaging of Invasive Breast Cancer: Imaging Features, Extent of Invasive Disease, and Comparison Between Invasive Ductal and Lobular Histology

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2015 Sep;205(3):W374-81. doi: 10.2214/AJR.14.13502.


Objective: The purposes of this study were to compare the tumor appearance of invasive breast cancer on direct-conversion molecular breast imaging using a standardized lexicon and to determine how often direct-conversion molecular breast imaging identifies all known invasive tumor foci in the breast, and whether this differs for invasive ductal versus lobular histologic profiles.

Materials and methods: Patients with prior invasive breast cancer and concurrent direct-conversion molecular breast imaging examinations were retrospectively reviewed. Blinded review of direct-conversion molecular breast imaging examinations was performed by one of two radiologists, according to a validated lexicon. Direct-conversion molecular breast imaging findings were matched with lesions described on the pathology report to exclude benign reasons for direct-conversion molecular breast imaging findings and to document direct-conversion molecular breast imaging-occult tumor foci. Associations between direct-conversion molecular breast imaging findings and tumor histologic profiles were examined using chi-square tests.

Results: In 286 patients, 390 invasive tumor foci were present in 294 breasts. A corresponding direct-conversion molecular breast imaging finding was present for 341 of 390 (87%) tumor foci described on the pathology report. Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) tumor foci were more likely to be a mass (40% IDC vs 15% invasive lobular carcinoma [ILC]; p < 0.001) and to have marked intensity than were ILC foci (63% IDC vs 32% ILC; p < 0.001). Direct-conversion molecular breast imaging correctly revealed all pathology-proven foci of invasive disease in 79.8% of cases and was more likely to do so for IDC than for ILC (86.1% vs 56.7%; p < 0.0001). Overall, direct-conversion molecular breast imaging showed all known invasive foci in 249 of 286 (87%) patients.

Conclusion: Direct-conversion molecular breast imaging features of invasive cancer, including lesion type and intensity, differ by histologic subtype. Direct-conversion molecular breast imaging is less likely to show all foci of ILC compared with IDC.

Keywords: breast cancer; invasive ductal carcinoma; invasive lobular carcinoma; molecular breast imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Imaging*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi