Researchers from the University of Bonn studied the effectiveness of mammograms to detect early stages of breast cancer, and compared that to MRI.
From the Guardian:
The study in the Lancet medical journal found that x-ray based mammograms detect only 56% of early lesions in high risk women compared with 92% when magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI), more commonly used for brain scans, are used.
Nearly all breast cancers begin with non-invasive cancerous cells in the milk ducts, which if detected and quickly treated prevent the disease’s progression.
Christiane Kuhl, the lead researcher at the University of Bonn said: “If you picked up all cases of ductal carcinoma in situ [DCIS] you would prevent virtually all cases of breast cancer. Our finding that MRI is superior to mammography in detecting it turns things upside down.”
The study raises new questions about the national breast cancer screening programme which sees all women between the ages of 50 and 70 called in for regular mammograms but not MRI scans. Only younger women at high risk of breast cancer are offered the more expensive MRI scans which use giant magnets to produce images of soft tissue.