An M.R.I. image from a patient who had a
positive mammogram reading.

Increase in Mastectomies Linked to M.R.I. Detection

May 19, 2008 07:01 AM
by Liz Colville
A new study shows that new breast cancer detection methods, particularly M.R.I.s, may be prompting more women to have their entire breast removed.

30-Second Summary

Conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the study followed more than 5,400 women who had surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., from 1997 to 2006, and found that the number of mastectomies rose sharply beginning in 2003.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Matthew P. Goetz, speculated that one reason for the rise was the increasing use of M.R.I. scans beginning around 2003.

M.R.I., according to The New York Times, “detects more possibly cancerous growths than does mammography. That could be causing patients and doctors to conclude that a lumpectomy, which removes just the part of the breast containing the primary tumor, may not be sufficient.”

M.R.I.s are also considered superior to ultrasound detection among women with a high risk of breast cancer, as ultrasound is known to produce false positives.

However, the authors of the study suggest that mastectomies might be overly cautious; statistics show that more women are removing healthy breasts along with cancerous breasts to avoid future procedures.

Other factors may also have contributed to the spike in mastectomies, say the study’s authors, including advances in breast reconstruction surgery and the utilization of genetic tests in identifying women likely to have a recurrence.

In an unprecedented approach, the American Society of Clinical Oncology released excerpts of its findings on its Web site and discussed them in a telephone news conference 15 days before the research is to be presented at a May 30 conference. “This is the first year it has released such information in advance,” reports The New York Times.

Headline Link: ‘Study Links Rise in Mastectomies to M.R.I. Detection’

Background: Researching breast cancer detection methods

M.R.I.s gaining ground
The Role of Ultrasounds

Related Topic: ‘Vitamin D May Help Curb Breast Cancer, Study Shows’

Reference: M.R.I. defined, recent studies, and the breast cancer Web Guide

New England Journal of Medicine Study on M.R.I. Detection (2007)
Journal of the American Medical Association Study on Ultrasounds in Conjunction with Mammograms (2008)
American Society of Clinical Oncology Study on Rise in Mastectomies (2008)
Web Guide to Breast Cancer

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