Whole body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can accurately detect breast cancer metastases early on, according to a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

The study, led by Joshita Singh, MD, of the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Center in Pune, India, involved 99 patients with known breast cancer who were evaluated for metastases using whole body MRI.

Researchers found that among the study cohort, whole body MRI revealed that 47 patients were positive for metastases while 52 patients were negative. Furthermore, of the patients who were positive for metastases, whole body MRI frequently detected bone metastases earlier, when the patient was still asymptomatic. “It is important that we detect metastases early in order to ensure the patient is getting the appropriate treatment,” Dr. Singh noted.

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According to background information provided in the press release announcing the findings, imaging modalities other than MRI commonly used to detect breast cancer metastases include positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), chest radiographs, bone scans, and ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvis. But as Dr. Singh explained, “whole body MRI is an effective tool for the detection of metastases and unlike other procedures commonly used in this role, it emits no radiation.”

“We highly recommend that whole body MRI be the imaging modality of choice for the detection of metastases in patients with breast cancer,” Dr. Singh concluded.