Costly magnetic resonance imaging appears more effective than mammography in detecting tumors in women with an inherited predisposition to breast cancer, according to a study in the latest New England Journal of Medicine. In the study, conducted in the Netherlands, women at increased risk of breast cancer were screened every six months with a breast examination and once a year by mammography and MRI, with independent readings. The researchers found that the MRI exam was more than twice as sensitive (79.5%) in detecting invasive breast cancer as mammography (33.3%). In an accompanying editorial, Laura Liberman of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York said the new data support a recent report that concluded using MRI to screen women with a high genetic risk of breast cancer improves the net health outcome for all women. MRI is probably most beneficial for women at highest risk, but more research is needed to develop recommendations "tailored to the specific needs of women at various levels of risk," Liberman said. Read the abstract. -- by Cinda Becker
MRI beats mammography in high-risk women
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