Breast MRI discovering other suspect masses

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Unlike mammograms, which are typically used for preventive purposes, breast MRIs are often employed when the patient has a history of breast cancer or has a high risk of developing cancer. Sometimes these MRIs highlight other suspicious masses in the body, which may represent the breast cancer metastasis or other cancer. These finds are called extra-mammary findings and sometimes, on further investigation, prove not to be cancerous at all. These extra-mammary findings can be a cause of concern and anxiety for the patient involved.

Researchers at the University of Iowa set out to discover just how many extra-mammary findings turn out to be cancerous in nature. In this study, researchers examined the records of 1,322 women who had had the MRI procedure performed at the University of Iowa between 2007 and 2012. In roughly 10 percent of cases, the screening identified at least one extra-mammary, suspect mass. But in only 4.6 percent of cases, or a mere 6 of the 130 women with extra-mammary findings, did the mass(es) turn out to be breast cancer that had spread elsewhere. Researchers felt that the low percentage of findings that actually turned out to be cancerous may help reassure anxious patients.

Breast MRI discovering other suspect masses
Breast MRI discovering other suspect masses
When women undergo MRIs to check for breast cancer, the scans sometimes reveal suspicious masses elsewhere in the body, which can generate a lot of anxiety and require more testing. But a new study suggests these masses are often not cancerous.
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