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MRI May Not Improve Breast Cancer Outcome

THURSDAY, Aug. 13 -- The use of MRI before surgery to assess the extent of early breast cancer may do more harm than good, a new review shows.

The study authors said this use of MRI increases the likelihood that patients will have more extensive surgery instead of a conservative therapy, but that this more aggressive treatment doesn't lead to improved surgical care or patient outcomes.

"Overall, there is growing evidence that MRI does not improve surgical care, and it could be argued that it has a potentially harmful effect," wrote the American and Australian researchers.

They called for well-designed, randomized controlled trials to study the potential benefit and harm of MRI in patients with newly diagnosed early breast cancer, including careful evaluation of its impact on quality of life.

"We acknowledge that logistics and costs of conducting such large-scale, multi-center trials are enormous. If the technology is truly as beneficial as its proponents claim, then these costs are worth it. If it is not, then they are outweighed by the costs of adopting expensive technology and associated intervention without evidence of clinical benefit," the researchers concluded.

The study appeared online Aug. 13 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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Posted: August 2009