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Detecting, Diagnosing Breast Cancers
Date:4/14/2008

dense tissue and was diagnosed almost seven years after initial discovery.

"Uncommonly, palpable malignancies may not be detectable on both mammography and sonography, and this combination of imaging doesn't rule out malignancy," Tyler said. "Also, based on our findings, long-term clinical and imaging follow-up of over five years may be needed to diagnose all palpable cancers, when the initial mammogram and sonogram are unrevealing," she said.

Use of MRI

Two studies confirm the effectiveness of a patient receiving an MRI before finalizing treatment.

The first, done by Yale University School of Medicine researchers, showed that more than a quarter of 110 breast cancer patients who had an MRI before breast surgery ended up making changes in their treatment plans as a result.

"MRI prompted biopsy of 70 sites in 44 patients," study author Dr. Carol Lee, now at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said in a prepared statement. Sixteen additional cancer sites were found in 13 women, or 12 percent, she said.

Surgical treatment was changed in 31 cases (28 percent), such as opting for mastectomy rather than lumpectomy or a more extensive lumpectomy than first expected. Three also found cancer in the other breast that was treated.

"Breast MRI is a very useful tool for assessing extent of tumor in the breast, however, there are downsides that need to be taken into consideration," Lee said. This includes treatment delay, which was 41 days between diagnosis and treatment for MRI patients compared with 27 days for the patients who did not undergo the imaging, she said.

The second study, conducted by researchers at the University of Miami in Florida and the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, found that an MRI clearly differentiates the blood supply to medial and lateral breast tumors. This aids in determining a course of treatment and making a prognosis.

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