Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) should be used to screen for cancer in women vulnerable to the disease because of family history or previous or existing malignancy, suggests an international study.
MRI picked up cancer in the other breast of 30 out of 969 women who had recently been diagnosed with the disease, giving a rate of just over 3%. Almost two thirds (60%) of the cancers detected were invasive, with an average size of 11mm.
The authors acknowledge that MRI is expensive and that not all women need it, and that it will not pick up calcifications -one of the earliest signs of breast cancer.
But in women who are considered to be at high risk, MRI will help detect 'hidden' tumours, they said.
New England Journal of Medicine (2007) 356: 1295-303