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A recent German study published in Lancet concludes that the use of MRI in addition to mammography may increase the likelihood of early detection of breast cancers. More than 7,000 women were screened for breast cancer over a five-year period using both mammography and MRI.

During this time period, 193 women were diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, an early form of breast cancer. Of the 193 women with breast cancer, 167 of them had been screened with both mammography and MRI prior to their diagnoses with only 56% of the breast cancers being detected by mammography versus 92% detected by MRI. MRI was also more accurate in identifying cases of high-grade ductal carcinoma in situ, with 48% of these cancers being missed by mammography but noted on MRI. In this study, only 2 cases of cancer were detected by mammography but missed by MRI. The study authors concluded that the use of MRI in conjunction with mammography could increase the chances of early diagnoses of ductal carcinoma in situ.

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.”

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