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MRI detects missed breast cancers

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9:59am, June 18, 2003

From Chicago, at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Women who carry a genetic mutation predisposing them to breast cancer should rely on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) instead of mammography for their regular screenings, a new study suggests. But for women who don't harbor a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, the normal forms of which suppress cancer, the high cost of MRI may not be justified, says Christiane K. Kuhl of the University of Bonn in Germany.

Kuhl and her colleagues identified 462 healthy women who carry a BRCA mutation and tracked their breast health for 5 years. Such women face an 80 percent lifetime chance of developing breast cancer, compared with about 12 percent for women in general. During the study, 51 breast cancers developed in 45 of the women. MRI detected 49 of these cancers, whereas mammography revealed only 17, Kuhl reports.

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