Breast MRI may be better for at-risk women

Sept. 20, 2011 at 9:53 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Breast magnetic resonance imaging screenings used on high-risk, underserved women detected more tumors than mammography, U.S. researchers said.

Lead researcher Dr. Anne C. Ford, assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues compared breast cancer mammography screening in 299 general-risk, underserved women to MRI screening in 299 high-risk, underserved women.

Women with abnormal mammogram or abnormal breast MRI underwent ultrasound, ultrasound guided biopsy and/or stereotactic biopsy for mammogram cases, and/or MRI guided biopsy for MRI cases.

The study found mammographic screenings detected one breast cancer case, while MRI screenings detected nine cases, while benign breast/total biopsies were found in 88 percent of mammographic screening cases and in 78 percent of MRI cases.

"In an underserved population, using this model, it is cost effective to screen with MRI because we found more breast cancers with MRI than we did with mammography in this population," Ford said in a statement. "If you truly target high-risk women with MRIs, you can find the cancers, and you can find them early."

The normal cost of an MRI is higher than for a mammogram but the cost of a MRI was reduced from an average of $3,500 to $649 by a grant specific to the study.

The findings are being presented at the Fourth American Association for Cancer Research Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Washington.

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