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Supplemental breast MR superior to ultrasound for screening breast cancer survivors

by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
MR and ultrasound are both used as secondary screening tools for breast cancer, but which one is better?

A team of Korean researchers found that MR is the superior option for women age 50 and younger who previously underwent breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer.

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This population of breast cancer survivors have a high risk of second breast cancer. The new cancer can occur in the opposite breast or even in the same breast for those treated with breast-conserving surgery such as lumpectomy.

Dr. Woo-Kyung Moon of Seoul National University College of Medicine, the Republic of Korea, and coauthors recruited 754 women for the multicenter comparison study.

During the three-year study period, annual mammography, breast ultrasonography and breast MR were performed on both of the patients' breasts. A total of 2,065 mammograms, ultrasound and MR screenings were conducted.

Dr. Moon and his team reported that 17 cancers were diagnosed, and 13 of them were stage 0 or stage 1. They found that supplemental MR screening detected 3.8 additional cancers per 1,000 women compared to mammography alone, and supplemental ultrasonography only detected an additional 2.4.

But the researchers noted that the study was limited, in that it didn't include a control group to compare women undergoing mammography alone. They also weren't able to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and effect of MR or ultrasound screening on survival benefit.

Moon concluded that the "results from this study can inform patient decision-making on screening methods after breast conservation therapy."

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