Repeat screening could boost breast cancer diagnosis

3 February 2011

Repeated screening of patients suspected of having breast cancer can boost the accuracy of diagnosis, it has been claimed.

According to new research published in the journal Radiology, repeated MRI screening offers consistent cancer detection rates and results in fewer false positives.

The researchers behind the new study claim that the pitfalls of using MRI are well known as the technique can often not differentiate between cancerous and benign growths. However, they noted that additional testing often negates false-positive results, doing away with the need for a biopsy in many cases.

Co-author of the new study, Martha Mainiero, director of the Anne C Pappas Center for Breast Imaging at Rhode Island Hospital, in the US, said: "False positives are a risk of the breast MRI procedure, but the rate decreases following the initial round of screening."

She added: "This information should provide reassurance for high-risk patients who are considering undergoing annual MRI screening exams."

Recently, Malcolm Kell, consultant surgeon and senior lecturer at University College Dublin's Eccles Breast Screening Unit, wrote in the British Medical Journal that MRI scans may not be the best means of testing for early-stage breast cancer.

1 Mainiero, Martha et al. "Screening Breast MR Imaging: Comparison of Interpretation of Baseline and Annual Follow-up Studies". Radiology. Tuesday, February 1st 2011.

2 Kell, Malcolm. "Magnetic resonance mammography". British Medical Journal. Thursday, October 21st 2010.

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