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Experts Release Guidelines on Use of Breast MRI

The technology can supplement, but not replace, standard screening, they say

MONDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) MRI should supplement and enhance current screening and diagnostic for breast cancer, not serve as a substitute for it, according to newly released physician guidelines.

The guidelines, published Monday in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, give needed direction for using breast MRI, a relatively new clinical tool.

"Health care policy decisions regarding the use of important but expensive technology must be based upon evidence that these tools are providing measurable benefit to patients," study co-author Dr. Benjamin Anderson, a professor of surgery at the University of Washington, said in a news release issued by one of the research facilities behind the project. "This study provides that evidence for breast MRI."

The research, authored by teams at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., calls for screening, mammography and ultrasound to still be the primary line of defense. MRI would then be used in selected situations, such as providing a better look within a breast thought to have cancer and look for it in the opposite, or "contralateral," breast.

The guidelines recommend biopsy of suspicious lesions found on MRI before deciding on whether to proceed with breast cancer surgery, since MRI findings are not fully accurate in this respect.

The guidelines also call for imaging centers to be able to perform MRI-guided needle biopsy of these MRI-detected lesions.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, news release, Feb. 16, 2009

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