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X-ray Mammography Aids in Breast Cancer Detection

tion of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

Women with multiple relatives who developed breast or ovarian cancer at a young age, and those who are found to carry BRCA mutations face a decision about whether to have prophylactic surgery or undergo a lifetime of intensive screening.

For the report, the authors analyzed data from six studies that screened a total of 1,920 women thought to be at very high risk of breast cancer due to their family history. The average age of these women ranged from 38 to 46 and they were estimated to have a 30 percent or higher risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.

A total of 3,770 screening exams were done. Each year, the participants were screened by MRI, X-ray mammography, ultrasound, and breast examination.

The authors analysis found that when MRI was combined with X-ray mammography, more breast cancers were detected. Using both methods made it 2.7 times more likely to find true positives than using X-ray alone. Also, when women were screened with only MRI, the procedure was still more accurate in finding cancers than when only mammography was done making it 2.3 times more likely to find true positives.

The report also found, however, that while screening with MRI plus X-ray mammography finds more cancers, it also leads to more false-positive results. Adding MRI to the screening program will lead to more women undergoing unnecessary follow-up procedures.

ECRI Institutes analysis suggests that for every 10 additional cancers detected by MRI, an additional 16 false positives will occur. Bruening said, however, in this high-risk population, a higher rate of false positives may be considered acceptable.

These women at high risk may be willing to go through additional unnecessary testing just to get reassurance that they do not have cancer, Bruening said. In high-risk women, the cancer can be more aggressive, so you want to detect it a
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