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X-ray Mammography Aids in Breast Cancer Detection

Use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) plus X-ray mammography for screening will detect more breast cancers than mammography alone, for women at high risk of breast cancer . But the number of false positives indicating a problem where none exists will rise significantly also.

MRI is an imaging procedure that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make images of organs and structures inside the body. The report aimed to determine whether the combination of MRI and mammography was more accurate than mammography alone in finding breast cancer.

The TARGET emerging technology evidence report is published by ECRI Institute, an independent nonprofit health services research agency that researches the best approaches to improving patient care. The institute produces systematic reviews on medical devices, drugs, biotechnologies, procedures and health services.

Lead author Wendy Bruening, a senior research analyst at ECRI Institute, said she was not surprised that her analysis of the evidence showed that MRI detected more cases of cancer than X-ray mammography.

These findings, in fact, are consistent with the current guidelines of leading cancer organizations, such as the American Cancer Institute and the American Society of Breast Disease, that recommend screening that includes MRI, X-ray mammography and ultrasound for patients at high risk of breast cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most frequent newly diagnosed non-skin cancer in women in the U.S., and the second leading cause of cancer-related death. In 2007, an estimated 178,480 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 40,460 women will die of the disease.

While the causes of breast cancer are unknown, heredity has been identified as one risk factor. The authors write that about 50 percent of breast cancers associated with genetic risk factors are linked to a muta
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