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Ann Surg Oncol. 2008 Feb;15(2):452-61. Epub 2007 Nov 17.

MRI screening in a clinic population with a family history of breast cancer.

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Breast Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.



Breast MRI is increasingly being used in patients at increased risk for breast cancer; however, guidelines for MRI screening are inadequately defined. We describe our experience with MRI screening in a large population of women with a family history of breast cancer.


We retrospectively reviewed the Memorial Sloan-Kettering breast cancer surveillance program prospective database from April 1999 to July 2006. Patients with a family history of breast cancer and at least 1 year follow-up were identified. All patients were offered biannual clinical breast examination (CBE) and annual mammography (MMG). MRI screening was performed at the discretion of the physician and patient.


Family history profiles revealed 1,019 eligible patients; median follow-up was 5.0 years. MRI screening was performed in 374 (37%) patients resulting in a total of 976 MRIs during the study period. Cancer was detected in 9/374 patients (2%) undergoing MRI screening. Seven cancers were detected by MRI only, for a cancer detection rate of 0.7% (7/976) for screening MRI. When stratified by family risk profile, the positive predictive value (PPV) of MRI was higher (13%) in those patients with the strongest family histories and lower (6%) in patients with less significant family histories.


MRI screening can be a useful adjunct to CBE and MMG in patients with high-risk family histories of breast cancer, yet it has low yield in patients with lower-risk family histories. These data suggest that MRI screening should be reserved for those at highest risk.

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