U.K. study strengthens case for breast MR screening

July 1, 2005

A multicenter study published online May 16 by The Lancet has shown that a combination of MRI and mammography offers the best means of detecting breast cancer in women with a high genetic risk for the disease.

A multicenter study published online May 16 by The Lancet has shown that a combination of MRI and mammography offers the best means of detecting breast cancer in women with a high genetic risk for the disease.

The investigators found MRI significantly more sensitive than mammography (77% versus 40%) in detecting breast cancers across the group of 649 women. Combining the results increased the sensitivity to 94%. MRI proved especially effective in BRCA1 mutation carriers, in whom it detected all tumors. Both techniques were needed to spot all cancers in women carrying BRCA2 mutations.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Ellen Warner, a medical oncologist at Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, said that mammography may one day be abandoned for high-risk women.