MRIs Find Breast Cancers Missed By Mammograms

Mammograms are the gold standard in breast cancer detection, but that doesn’t mean this form of imaging is perfect. In fact, a recent study shed light on how MRIs are actually able to catch breast cancers that standard mammograms may miss.

To providing insights into the benefits of MRI in detecting additional breast cancers, researchers recently looked at records from more than 2,000 patients. The patients had all been recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone biopsies after a preoperative MRI. About 14 percent of those patients had additional cancer that was found only during the MRI. A total of 26 percent of those patients were found to have cancer in a different part of the breast than the initial diagnosis. In many cases, the lesions were larger than the original cancer found.

While the full implications of the study are not yet known, the results support the use of MRIs in some case to vet findings of a mammogram. In some cases, the MRI findings may very well alter planned treatments for a previously diagnosed breast cancer patient. While offering greater insights into the severity of the disease, MRIs may direct clinicians to previously unseen and potentially more dangerous tumors.

An estimated 250,000 American women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. About 40,000 women will die from the disease. Early detection is critical for helping doctors lay out a treatment plan that may very well stop the cancer in its tracks.

Women of all ages are urged to discuss their breast cancer risks with their healthcare providers. Routine breast exams are recommended in adulthood with mammograms generally starting around the age of 50. Women diagnosed with the disease are also urged to talk with their doctors about additional screening and proposed treatments so they can make informed decisions after weighing the potential benefits versus risks.

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