In the battle against breast cancer, early detection is key. Imaging technologies, like digital breast tomosynthesis (DMI), are often used to scan the breasts to determine whether or not a tumour is present; however, there are challenges that can present obstacles to using imaging to detect cancer. For one thing, some women may have denser breasts, which can make it more difficult to detect cancers.
Researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health working with the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group have recently published a study in JAMA that compared the effectiveness of an abbreviated form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to DMI in detecting breast cancer, using a cohort of women in the United States and Germany. This form of MRI takes less than 10 minutes to perform and is less costly than a full breast MRI. The study enrolled 1516 participants and after excluding six for eligibility reasons, participants were randomized to either undergo abbreviated MRI first and then DMI, or to undergo DMI first and then abbreviated MRI.
What they found was that abbreviated MRI had was able to detect more invasive breast cancers than DBT. Nineteen invasive cancers were detected in 17 women, abbreviated MRI detected all 17, while DBT detected 7. When non-invasive breast cancers were included, 23 women had cancer – abbreviated MRI detected cancer in 22 of the women, while DBT identified the cancer in 9 women. These results suggest that abbreviated MRI may help improve cancer detection in screening women with denser breastwhen compared to 3-D mammography,
The authors suggest that more research be done in order to further understand the relationship between the screening methods used to detect cancer and clinical outcomes.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on March 06