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MRI unnecessary to determine breast cancer surgery need

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Triple assessments of breast cancer are just as effective as MRI scans at determining if women need repeat surgery, according to a study.

Researchers from Hull University and Hull Royal Infirmary believe their discovery could save primary care trusts money by reducing unnecessary MRI scans.

The study looked at 1,623 women who had undergone conventional triple assessments involving a clinical examination, an ultrasound or x-ray of the breast and lab tests of the tumour. They then went on to have either an MRI or no further tests.

About 19% of those who had an MRI needed another operation, as did 19% of those who had no more scans.

Lead researcher Lindsay Turnbull wrote in The Lancet: “Our results have important implications in routine clinical practice. MRI is an expensive procedure.”

“We believe that our findings are generalisable to all healthcare providers, and show that MRI might not be necessary in this population of patients in terms of reduction of reoperation rates.”

The team found the women who had MRIs needed more patient time and hospital resources, and suggested the research “could assist in improved use of NHS services” as it showed the scans could be superfluous in some situations.

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