MRI Exams May Delay Breast Cancer Treatment and Outcomes!

Tiffany Lowery

Women who receive an MRI after being newly diagnosed with breast cancer may face treatment delays, a new study shows. What’s more, they are more likely to undergo a painful mastectomy rather than reconstructive surgery!

Study findings presented at the 2008 ASCO Breast Cancer Symposium shows that MRI scans in women newly diagnosed with the abnormal cell growth increased significantly between 2004 and 2006—despite a lack of evidence of their benefit!

Richard J. Bleicher, M.D., F.A.C.S., a specialist in breast cancer surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pa., said MRI scans prior to treatment are unnecessary for most women. In a press statement, Bleicher said, “We have yet to see any evidence that MRI improves outcomes when used routinely to evaluate breast cancer, and yet more and more women are getting these scans with almost no discernable pattern.”

The research team reviewed the records of 577 breast cancer patients. Of these patients, 130 had MRIs prior to treatment.

Bleicher said those who received MRIs had a three-week delay in the start of their treatment. What’s more, Bleicher expressed concerns that the highly sensitive MRI scan can produce false-positive results.

Rather than having a biopsy to confirm those findings—some women and their doctors may choose mastectomies rather than a lesser procedure known as a lumpectomy.

“MRI is a valuable tool in some women, but without evidence that routine pre-treatment MRI improves a woman’s outcome, its disadvantages suggest that it should not be a routine part of patient evaluation for treatment,” Bleicher said. “Greater efforts to define MRI’s limitations and use are needed.”