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MRI finds undetected breast cancers

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MRI scans can reveal previously undetected cancerous areas in the breasts of women due to undergo lumpectomies, research has shown.

According to retrospective review of 79 women aged 29 to 82 due to undergo lumpectomy, MRI scans reveal the need for a change in treatment plans in about 20% of the sample.

The study showed MRI can find additional cancers in the same breast, discover cancers in the opposite breast or find that a tumour is larger than expected. Standard imaging tests such as ultrasound and mammography often misses these problems, the research shows.

Findings were presented at the 119th annual meeting of the Southern Surgical Association earlier this month in Hot Springs, Virginia, USA and are to be published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in May 2008.

Stephen Grobmyer, assistant professor of surgical oncology and endocrine surgery at the University of Florida of Medicine’s department of surgery, said: ‘MRI has been known for a while to be the most sensitive method to detect breast cancer. Some over the use of MRI in this context have been one, the cost and two, the fact MRI detects many ‘abnormal’ areas that upon further work-up turn out not to be cancer.’
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