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Some Breast Cancer Screens Better Than Others

Study says MRI catches tumors missed by mammography in high-risk women

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps radiologists identify breast tumors missed by mammography, says a study presented Dec. 1 at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting in Chicago.

The international study, the first of its kind to compare MRI and mammography in women with a genetically high risk for breast cancer, was conducted at 13 sites and included 367 women over age 25 with at least a 25 percent risk of breast cancer.

"We want to find a screening modality that can improve detection in high-risk young women, including those with dense breast tissue," study presenter Dr. Constance Dobbins, an assistant professor and director of breast imaging at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, said in a prepared statement.

Each of the women in the study had MRI, mammography and a clinical breast exam. The study found that MRI had a 1.1 percent diagnostic yield, compared with a 0.3 percent diagnostic yield for mammography.

That means that MRI would detect 11 cancers in 1,000 high-risk women, while mammography would detect three cancers in 1,000 high-risk women.

"MR findings resulted in 6 percent of women with a negative mammogram and a negative clinical breast exam being recommended for biopsy. Three additional cancers were detected in those women," Dobbins said.

More information

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

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, Dec. 1, 2004
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