MRI May Improve Breast Cancer Surgery

The scans can point to new regions needing excision, researchers say

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TUESDAY, May 22, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- MRI scans may help guide the surgical treatment of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, U.S. researchers report.

A team at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago noted that newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are at risk of having another hidden tumor in the same or opposite breast. If these additional tumors are detected before surgery to remove the initially diagnosed tumor, then the plans for surgical management of a patient's breast cancer can be changed.

This study included 155 women who'd been diagnosed with breast cancer by mammogram, ultrasound or needle biopsy. The women were then evaluated by a surgeon who developed a surgical treatment plan. After this consultation, the women had an MRI on both breasts.

Those MRIs spotted a total of 124 additional aberrant areas in 73 of the women. If a follow-up biopsy showed these areas to be suspicious or malignant, the women went back to the surgeon for a re-evaluation of their surgical treatment plans.

Breast MRI resulted in altered surgical management of 36 (23.2 percent) of the 155 women, including 10 who had a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy, 21 who had lumpectomies in which more tissue was removed than originally planned, and five who had surgery on both breasts.

"Additional malignancies are uncovered in one patient for every 10 who undergo MRI," the study authors wrote. "These data suggest that breast MRI may have a role in the staging evaluation of newly diagnosed breast cancers."

The study is published in the May issue of the journal Archives of Surgery.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, May 21, 2007

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