Contrast-enhanced mammography helps doctors detect breast cancer

Here's another diagnostic tool for breast cancer

HOUSTON – Houston Methodist Willowbrook is using contrast dye to get better images through mammograms.

This may be particularly helpful for women with dense breast tissue who can go undiagnosed for years before the cancer is spotted on regular imaging.

Evelyn Murray is a vibrant 74-year-old with no history of breast cancer. She didn’t put much importance on getting a mammogram, despite knowing she had dense tissue that might make it difficult to detect.

“That’s why I thought that being called back was no big deal, like, ‘Yea, well, we’re doing that again this year!’” Murray said.

She didn’t know they were calling her back because they spotted something on her mammogram that needed another look. When she came back in to be screened with contrast-enhanced mammography, the image went from looking all white and venous to having a single white circle that was clearly cancer.

“The contrast dye concentrates at the area of cancer, and compared to a traditional digital mammogram, we’re able to see the cancer much clearer with denser breast tissue,” Dr. Arthy Yoga, with Houston Methodist Willowbrook Breast Surgical Oncology said. “I was able to remove all of this tissue because I knew that I needed to take a wider area, and therefore, she did not need to have another surgery. She was able to recover quickly and have her radiation and get back to her life.”

Murray is thankful this has opened her eyes to taking breast health seriously without being life-threatening.

“I have totally had a change of heart,” Murray admitted avoiding consistent visits for mammograms. “I would say where you go to get your mammogram is as important as getting your mammogram because I do believe if I would have continued with my bouncing here and there, this would not have been caught at a facility that didn’t have this extra step of technology.”