Women at high risk of breast cancer may benefit from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screening, according to a small study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The study compared mammograms and MRIs in 179 women – most under age 50 – who were at high risk for early-onset breast cancer. Thirteen cases of breast cancer were found. While mammography detected just six cases, MRI caught them all.
The researchers note that younger women generally have dense breast tissue that is more difficult to evaluate with a mammogram than with an MRI. Also, MRI testing can be valuable in clarifying inconclusive mammograms or breast ultrasounds.
More testing will be needed to confirm the value of MRI in breast-cancer screenings. But for now, it appears to be a helpful complementary tool in detecting breast cancer in some high-risk women.
For more information on breast-cancer screening, visit the American Cancer Society’s Web site and click on "Prevention and Early Detection" under "Health Information Seekers."