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MRI Better Than Mammography?
Studies Indicate High-Risk Women
Can Benefit From MRI Screening for Breast Cancer
In a pair of studies comparing methods for breast cancer screening,
magnetic resonance imaging - MRI was better than mammography for identifying
early-stage cancers in women at high risk for breast cancer.
MRI screening can detect very tiny tumors, which makes it an attractive
screening option for women who have the genetic mutations that raise
the risk of breast cancer,. However, MRI is so good at detecting tiny
irregularities that it also finds many benign growths -- findings that
may register as false positives if the MRI test is taken by an inexperienced
The situation is much different in Europe where the false-positive rate
is "actually very low," but she says this might reflect the
expertise of the investigators. "
The team followed 45 high-risk women for five years. During that time,
MRI detected 51 cancers and missed two. The detection rate for mammography
was just 43% and for ultrasound was 47%.
For women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, MRI might be a safer way
to screen. These women start mammography screening while they are still
in their 30s, which means many more years of exposure to radiation from
A Dutch MRI Screening Study followed 1,905 women with
BRCA1, BRCA2, or a strong family history of the disease for two years,
doing MRI every six months identified 40 cancers, and most of them were
less than one centimeter in diameter. In that study self-exam detected
16% of tumors, while mammography detected 36% compared with a 71% detection
rate for MRI. Women at high risk of the disease may benefit from MRI.
Source: By Peggy Peck
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
on Monday, June 02, 2003 (Chicago)t
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