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Alternating mammography and MRI may be best for high-risk women
Date:12/13/2008

eening, 28 percent completed the second round, 13 percent completed the third round, and 4 percent completed the fourth round. The other 248 women underwent prophylactic mastectomy or were started on chemoprevention agents. All study participants were given a clinical breast exam every six months. The median follow-up time was 2 years, with a range of one to four years).

The alternating MRI and mammography screening program detected nine cancers among the 86 women-five invasive ductal carcinomas, three invasive lobular carcinoma, and two ductal carcinomas in situ. Five (55 percent) of these cancers were identified by MRI but not by mammography, three (33 percent) were found by both MRI and mammography, and one (11 percent) cancer, a tumor one millimeter in size, was overlooked by both screening techniques. No cancer was detected by mammography alone.

"We found that MRI picked up the majority of cancers, while mammography picked up only three out of the nine," Le-Petross noted. With five of the eight cancers detected by MRI, the mammogram from six months earlier was either normal or suggested benign findings.

"The global picture is that MRI can pick up cancers that mammography cannot," Le-Petross said. "This would suggest that in this population it is more beneficial for the patient to have screening MRI so that we can pick up small lesions before a mammogram can detect them."

One important unanswered question is whether an alternating MRI and mammography screening program will save lives. "That is going to take a 5- to 10-year follow-up to determine," Le-Petross added. "It is an exciting question because mammography has always been the standard, and now we are challenging that gold standard examination."


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Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
832-264-8893
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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