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Is 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 MRI technician.
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 mammography.

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 CBrymptoms:anceymptoms

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