OAK BROOK, Ill. Annual breast cancer screening with both mammography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is likely to be a cost-effective way to improve life expectancy in women with an increased risk of breast cancer, according to a new study published in the March issue of Radiology. The findings support current American Cancer Society screening recommendations.
"For women at the highest risk of breast cancer, using both breast MRI and mammography together for screening will likely reduce their chances of dying from breast cancer and help them live longer, healthier lives," said the study's lead author, Janie M. Lee, M.D., radiologist from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Women with certain mutations in the BRCA1 gene have a significantly increased lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Mammography, the current standard for breast cancer screening in the general population, detects fewer than half of breast cancers in these high-risk women, in part because their younger age at screening and associated increased breast density make visualizing tumors challenging.
While breast MRI is a useful adjunct to mammography for screening women at increased genetic risk of breast cancer, it is more time consuming and expensive than mammography and has a higher incidence of false-positive findings.
For the study, Dr. Lee and colleagues compared the costs and benefits of film mammography, of MRI and of combined mammography and MRI in a hypothetical group of 25-year-old women with BRCA1 mutations.
The researchers used statistical modeling to estimate the number of quality adjusted life years (QALYs) gained by screening, along with lifetime costs. QALYs are a measure of both the quantity and quality of life.
Women undergoing annual combined screening with both mammography and MRI gained 49.62 QALYs at a cost of $110,973. Annual MRI screening alone provided 49.50 QALYs at a cost of $108,641, while
|Contact: Linda Brooks|
Radiological Society of North America