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Breast MRI may shed light on cancer treatment

April 10, 2008 |  2:40 pm

health news: receiving an MRI before breast cancer surgery appears to be helpful

MRI examination before breast cancer surgery appears to pay off, often resulting in an alteration of the treatment plan, according to a new study by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine.

Among 110 breast cancer patients who had an MRI examination before surgery, 28% received a change in surgical treatment. For example, as a result of the MRI findings, 15 of the patients had a mastectomy rather than lumpectomy, six had a more extensive lumpectomy than originally planned, and three had treatment for cancer that was detected in the opposite breast.

On the downside, seven patients made a decision to have a bilateral mastectomy after a suspicious finding in the opposite breast, but before cancer was confirmed by biopsy. All seven were eventually found not to have had cancer in the opposite breast.

"Breast MRI is a very useful tool for assessing extent of tumor in the breast,”  Dr. Carol Lee, an author of the study, said in a news release. “However, there are downsides that need to be taken into consideration.”

The full results will be presented Tuesday at the American Roentgen Ray Society’s annual meeting in Washington D.C.

--Janet Cromley

Photo: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

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