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Your Health: New breast cancer test costs less than MRI
By Robert McCoppin | Daily Herald Staff

The Dilon 6800 Gamma Camera takes images that can serve as a backup to mammograms.


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Published: 9/21/2009 12:29 AM

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Breast cancer test

At least two suburban hospitals are offering an alternative imaging test for breast cancer that complements mammography and costs less than an MRI.

Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging not only helped detect cancer 96 percent of the time, a study in Radiology found, it also had a better ability to tell when disease was not present, to lower the 15 percent to 30 percent of the time mammograms give false positive findings.

Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights and Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village offer BSGI.

Dr. Michael Racenstein at Alexian said the test helps clear up murky mammogram results and eliminate unnecessary biopsies.

Christine Masonick, breast program manager at Northwest Community, said the test also helps a small percentage of women with elevated risk of cancer who have dense breast tissue that doesn't show up well in mammograms.

And BSGI costs an average of around $200 per test, compared to $1,000 or more for a breast MRI.

Preventive aspirin

Aspirin helps prevent first heart attacks in men and first strokes in women - but deciding whether to use it depends on a careful consideration of risks and benefits.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men age 45 to 79 and women age 55 to 79 should take aspirin to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack when the benefits outweigh the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

The task force cautions against taking daily aspirin for men under 45 or women under 55, because those illnesses are less likely to occur.

For people over 80, the task force said it's not clear the advantages outweigh the benefits.

For those in the target age range, patients should consult with their doctors, and can analyze their risk with an online calculator, such as the Framingham or Reynolds risk scores.

For those who do take aspirin, a baby dose of 81 milligrams a day seems to work best, especially when combined with a healthy diet, exercise and drinking alcohol in moderation.

The Harvard Medical School also warns that combining regular use of aspirin with ibuprofen or an anticoagulant like warfarin greatly increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Women's expo

A free women's health expo in Lake County will feature area businesses exhibiting women's services for health, physical fitness, finances, beauty, entertainment and more.

Following the expo is a dinner with TV's "Biggest Loser" champion Alison "Ali" Vincent, talking about how she shed 112 pounds.

The event is sponsored by Healthy Woman, a program of Vista Health Systems that holds regular events to encourage women's health.

The expo will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8 at Milan Banquet Hall in Fountain Square, on the grounds of the former Lakehurst Mall, on the southwest corner of Routes 120 and 43 in Waukegan.

Tickets to the dinner are $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers.

Call (847) 360-4042 for reservations and information.


In a recession, people get fewer elective procedures like cosmetic medical care.

From 2007 to 2008, there was a 12 percent decrease in the number of cosmetic procedures, with a 21 percent reduction among men.

Still, Americans spent almost $12 billion getting work done last year.