-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The growing use of MRI in
breast cancer patients may be leading to unnecessary breast removal
in older women, according to a large new study.
Researchers examined the use of breast MRI and surgery in more
than 72,000 American women aged 67 to 94 who were diagnosed with
breast cancer between 2000 and 2009. During that time, the use of
MRI before surgery increased from 1 percent to 25 percent of
Women who received an MRI were more likely to have more
aggressive surgery. Among women who underwent breast removal
(mastectomy), 12.5 percent of those who had an MRI had both breasts
removed, compared with about 4 percent of those who did not have an
The researchers also found that women who had MRI were more
likely to have surgery to remove both breasts when cancer was only
found in one breast, a procedure called contralateral prophylactic
mastectomy. Among mastectomy patients, nearly 7 percent of those
who had an MRI underwent contralateral prophylactic mastectomy,
compared with about 2 percent of those who did not have an MRI.
The findings, published in the journal
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, are concerning because
the long-term benefits of having both breasts removed are unclear,
said lead author Dr. Cary Gross, an associate professor of internal
medicine at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Cancer
Outcomes, Public Policy and Effectiveness Research Center at Yale
"Patient concern about recurrence and survival must be balanced with the increased risk for complications associated with more aggressive cancer surgery, particularly when there is no proven benefit of the more aggressive option," Gross said in a Yale news release.
"There has been no randomized controlled clinical trial demonstrating improved outcomes for women who undergo preoperative breast MRI at any age," study first author Dr. Brigid Killelea, an assistant professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine, said in the news release. "Breast-conserving therapy, when feasible, remains the preferred approach for women with early-stage breast cancer."
The American Cancer Society has more about
surgery for cancer.
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