|MIR to Diagnose Early Breast Cancer|
Schmalfeldt: As is true with all forms of cancer, the earlier breast cancer is discovered, the better the chances for a good outcome. Wally Akinso tells us how MRI is being used to look for cancer where it might not have been noticed before. AKINSO: MRI can be used to detect cancers in the opposite breast of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, according to a study funded by the National Cancer Institute. MRI scans of women who were diagnosed with cancer in one breast detected over 90 percent of cancers in the other breast that were missed by mammography and clinical breast exam at initial diagnosis. Dr. Constance Lehman, the principal investigator of the study, said given the established success rates of mammography and clinical breast exams for detecting cancer in the opposite breast, adding an MRI scan to the diagnostic evaluation effectively doubled the number of cancers immediately found in these women.
Lehman: We know that women who have a diagnosis of breast cancer in one breast are at risk for developing cancer in the other breast. We then learned that many of these cancers are actually in the breast right at the time of that initial cancer diagnosis. And if we use MRI added to mammography we can find many more of these cancers than we could before MRI.
Akinso: Researchers hope that with breast MRI's strong ability to predict the absence of a tumor, they could provide women with more reassurance that the breast is disease free. Dr. Lehman is optimistic that there may be a long-term savings to patients and to the health care system due to MRI's ability to detect cancer in both breasts prior to beginning therapy.
Lehman: I think this is important information to women and their doctors. Women when told that they have a breast cancer diagnosis have many difficult decisions to face. This study provides information they didn't have before to better guide those decisions. We want our patients to be able to make informed decisions and it's through these clinical research trials that we can provide the information so that they can make those informed decisions.
Akinso: For more information on this study, log on to www.cancer.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.