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BCS: Routine Scan May Not Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

MRI use is associated with a three-week treatment delay, increased odds of mastectomy

MONDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Because women with newly diagnosed breast cancer who receive an MRI receive delayed treatment and are more likely to undergo a mastectomy, routine MRI use in such patients should be reconsidered, according to research presented at the 2008 Breast Cancer Symposium held Sept. 5 to 7 in Washington, D.C.

Richard J. Bleicher, M.D., of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues reviewed the records of 577 patients who were evaluated by a radiologist, pathologist, and a surgical, radiation and medical oncologist. Of these patients, 130 had MRIs prior to treatment.

The researchers found that MRI was associated with about a 23-day delay in pre-treatment evaluation. They also found that patients who underwent MRIs had a significantly greater likelihood of mastectomy (odds ratio 1.8). After adjusting for tumor size, they found that MRI did not decrease positive margins at lumpectomy (21.6 percent for MRI patients versus 14 percent for non-MRI patients) or conversions from breast conservation treatment to mastectomy (9.8 percent for MRI patients versus 5.9 percent for non-MRI patients).

"Without evidence that MRI decreases local recurrence after breast conservation treatment, it should not be a routine part of patient evaluation for breast conservation treatment," the authors conclude. "Greater efforts to define MRI's limitations and use are needed."

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