MRI detects cancers missed by mammography in breast cancer patients

CHICAGO -- A unique examination of one treatment centers use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in new breast cancer patients has found MRI to be superior to mammography in finding additional tumors in a breast in which cancer has already been diagnosed, and in detecting new tumors in a patients supposedly healthy breast.

Two studies conducted by oncologists from Mayo Clinic (http://cancercenter.mayo.edu/) in Jacksonville, Fla., and presented June 2, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (http://www.asco.org/portal/site/ASCO) (ASCO), also revealed distinct patterns between MRI-detected ipsilateral tumors (cancer in the affected breast) and contralateral tumors (cancer in the unaffected breast) that could guide use of the screening technology, researchers say.

These results prove that MRI can detect tumors missed by traditional exams, and can be vital in helping women choose the right course of treatment for their breast cancer, says Mayo radiation oncologist Laura Vallow, M.D. She and other radiation oncologists at the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/breastcancerprogram-jax/) in Jacksonville scan both breasts of all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with mammograms and MRI and so have been able to compare results from both screening techniques in hundreds of women.

In their study comparing MRI and mammography in detection of ipsilateral breast cancer -- the first such study of its kind in the nation --the researchers found that MRI detected tumors missed by mammography in 16 percent of 390 patients. Women with MRI-detected ipsilateral tumors tended to be younger or they had a primary breast tumor that was at least 1 centimeter in size. The primary tumors also belonged to many different breast cancer subtypes, and newly diagnosed tumors were different from th

Contact: Nancy Jensen
Mayo Clinic

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