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For some, MRIs beat mammograms

September 20, 2004|Reuters

Women with a high genetic risk for breast cancer run a better chance of having it detected with magnetic resonance imaging than with mammography and other methods, researchers have reported.

The kind of breast cancer involved is caused by mutations of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, believed responsible for 5% to 10% of all breast cancer cases. Women with the mutations have a significantly higher risk of breast cancer.

Researchers at Canada's Toronto-Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre said they studied 236 women, age 25 to 65, with the mutations who underwent annual screenings from 1997 to 2003 using all methods.

They found that 17 cancers in the group were detected by MRI, compared with eight by mammography, seven by ultrasound and two by semiannual clinical breast examinations.

"Our results support the position that MRI-based screening is likely to become the cornerstone of breast cancer surveillance for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, but it is necessary to demonstrate that this surveillance tool lowers breast cancer mortality before it can be recommended for general use," the report added.

The study was published in the Sept. 15 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

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