MRIs Catch Missed Breast Malignancies

Study finds them more effective than mammography

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FRIDAY, Oct. 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is better than mammography at detecting additional disease in breast cancer patients, says an Italian study in the October issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

The finding could affect the treatment of a large number of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

"We need to identify as many as possible malignant areas in the patient's breast, so we and she can determine what is the best choice of treatment," lead author Dr. Francesco Sardanelli said in a prepared statement.

The study included 90 women with breast cancer. Each had a mammogram and MRI to identify additional cancers that may have been missed in the initial diagnosis. Previous research found that as many as 42 percent of women with cancer in one breast have at least one other malignant lesion in the same breast.

Among the women in this study, MRI detected 152 malignant lesions while mammography detected 124 malignant lesions. A pathologist then examined the women's breasts and found 188 malignancies.

While MRI didn't detect all of the malignancies, it did detect more than mammography. And the malignances that were missed by mammography were much larger and more aggressive (70 percent were invasive cancers) overall than the malignancies missed by MRI, the study noted.

Among women with dense breasts, MRI was much more effective than mammography.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: American Roentgen Ray Society, news release, Oct. 1, 2004

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