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Annual screening with breast ultrasound or MRI could benefit some women
Date:12/2/2009

CHICAGO Results of a large-scale clinical trial presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) provide the first strong evidence of the benefit of annual screening ultrasound for women with dense breasts who are at elevated risk for breast cancer. In addition, the study confirmed that MRI is highly sensitive in depicting early breast cancer.

"We found that annual screening with ultrasound in addition to mammography significantly improves the detection of early breast cancer," said lead researcher Wendie A. Berg, M.D., Ph.D., breast imaging specialist at American Radiology Services, Johns Hopkins Green Spring Station in Lutherville, Md., "and that significantly more early breast cancer can be found when MRI is performed, even after combined screening with both ultrasound and mammography. However, both ultrasound and MRI increase the risk of false-positive findings."

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer need to begin screening at a younger age, because they often develop cancer earlier than women at average risk. However, women below age 50 are more likely to have dense breast tissue, which can limit the effectiveness of mammography as a screening tool.

Multicenter trials have shown that MRI enables radiologists to accurately identify tumors missed by mammography and ultrasound. The American Cancer Society recommends that some groups of women with a high risk of developing breast cancer should be screened with MRI in addition to their yearly mammogram beginning at age 30. However, MRI is not for everyone.

"Because MRI is a very expensive test and requires intravenous contrast, it is something we only recommend for screening the approximately 2 percent of women who are known or likely carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations or have other unusual circumstances that put them at very high risk for breast cancer," Dr. Berg said.

"There are another 10 to 15 percent of
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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