Nepal | July 09, 2020

MRIs of dense breasts find more cancer but also false alarms

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Share Now:

Giving women with very dense breasts an MRI scan in addition to a mammogram led to fewer missed cancers but also to a lot of false alarms and treatments that might not have been needed, a large study found.

The results give a clearer picture of the tradeoffs involved in such testing, but they can’t answer the biggest question — whether it saves lives.

For women with dense breasts trying to decide on screening, “the dilemma remains,” Dr Dan Longo of the New England Journal of Medicine wrote in an editorial published with the study on Wednesday.

About half of women over 40 have dense breasts and about 10% have very dense ones. That raises their risk of developing cancer and makes it harder to spot on mammograms if they do. US regulators are making rules to require that women get breast density information when they have mammograms, and many places provide it now. But what to do if you have dense breasts is unclear — it’s not known if more or different types of screening such as MRIs or ultrasounds help.

The study involved more than 40,000 Dutch women ages 50 to 75 with very dense breasts who had normal results from a mammogram, a screening X-ray offered every two years in the Netherlands. About 8,000 of them also were offered an MRI scan, which uses powerful magnets to create detailed images, and 4,783 women agreed.

Researchers then tracked how many breast cancers were detected in each group within two years. Finding more of these “interval cancers” implies that the initial screening may have missed them.

The rate of these cancers after two years was twice as high in the group that was only offered mammograms. This suggests that adding MRIs to initial screening did catch more cancers, but they also gave a lot of false alarms— about 80 per 1,000 scans. Three-quarters of women who had a biopsy after a questionable MRI turned out not to have cancer.

MRIs also led to more side effects during the scan or later testing, such as fainting or problems from an IV. And they cost much more than mammograms.

The study only looked at the first two years of screening with MRIs and it’s too soon to say whether the test will save lives.

Without such evidence, it’s tough to say what value there is in finding more cancers, especially many very small, early-stage ones, Longo wrote. Doctors already know that some of these will never cause symptoms or become life-threatening.

“Our dilemma is that, for most tumours, we cannot tell the difference between cancers that can kill you and those that cannot,” he wrote.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

India's COVID-19 challenges continue; 22,752 fresh cases detected on Wednesday

KATHMANDU: India's challenges with the ongoing coronavirus crisis continues with the confirmation of more than 22,000 cases on Wednesday. According to the Union Health Ministry of India, in the last 24 hours, as many as 22,752 positive cases of the respiratory infection have been detected country Read More...

95 discharged after recovering from COVID-19 in Tanahun

DAMAULI: As many as 95 persons have been discharged upon recovery from coronavirus infection in Tanahun district, on Wednesday. According to Tanahun District Health Office (DHO), the patients were released after two of their consecutive specimens drawn within 24 hours tested negative for the Read More...

Seven killed in oil platform ladder installation blast in southern Nigeria

ABUJA: Seven people were killed in an explosion at the Gbetiokun oil field in southern Nigeria’s Niger Delta region during the installation of a ladder on a platform, the state oil company said on Wednesday. Accidents and pipeline attacks in the Niger Delta are common in Nigeria, cutting into t Read More...

England 35-1 at tea as rain hits first test

SOUTHAMPTON: After a 117-day absence, international cricket returned in familiar fashion on Wednesday as rain delayed the first test between England and West Indies before the hosts lost Dom Sibley for 0 then reached 35-1 as bad light brought an early tea. Much else about the occasion felt Read More...

Silva shines as Man City thrash Newcastle 5-0

MANCHESTER: David Silva scored one goal and made two more as Manchester City put on a passing masterclass to overwhelm Newcastle United with a 5-0 Premier League victory on Wednesday. Having announced that he will leave the club at the end of this season after a 10-year spell, the 34- Read More...

Salah double keeps Liverpool on track for points record

BRIGHTON: Mohamed Salah scored twice as champions Liverpool moved on to 92 points with a 3-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Wednesday. The victory kept Liverpool on target to secure a record Premier League points tally, with Juergen Klopp's side needing nine from Read More...

Adequate social security key to minimise impact of COVID-19, says PM Oli

KATHMANDU, JULY 8 Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said protection of the most vulnerable, including migrant workers and those in informal sectors, and provision of adequate social security and health care was the key to minimise the impact of COVID-19. Addressing virtual ‘Global Summit on COVID Read More...

Suarez scores as Barca condemn Espanyol to relegation

Barca beat Espanyol 1-0 in city derby Suarez won the match with his 195th goal for the club Espanyol were relegated after 26 years in La Liga  BARCELONA: Barcelona kept up their pursuit of leaders Real Madrid in the La Liga title race by beating city rivals Espanyol 1-0 at home Read More...