Preoperative MRI in Breast Cancer Grows Contentious

January 4, 2010

Journal of the National Cancer Institute Advance
JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2009 101(24):1667-1669


Since its introduction in breast imaging, the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology has become a source of contentiousness between its ardent supporters and its fierce critics. No sooner had consensus been reached that MRI screening for breast cancer should be restricted to high-risk women than a new controversy flared over its preoperative use in early-stage breast cancer patients.

Fueling the debate is a recent flurry of reports suggesting that MRI use increases mastectomy rates, prolongs the time from diagnosis to treatment, and may increase the rate of overdiagnosis (detection of clinically insignificant cancers). Staunch advocates of preoperative MRIs, however, argue that in their hands it reduces reexcision surgeries and therefore reduces costs.