Friday, July 15, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: July 15

Today in breast cancer research news, we'll highlight recent studies on MRI for breast cancer screening, the accuracy of BI-RADS for women under 50, the use of contrast enhancement in CT scanning and a study on exercise to reduce breast cancer risk. As always, links to the research discussed today may be found on the treatment pages of the website anytime.

Eligibility for MRI breast cancer screening may change over time

Typically, MRI is only used for breast cancer screening for women with high risk due to a strong family history of known BRCA mutation. According to a July 13 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, discussed in a story, eligibility for MRI screening may change as a woman ages and family history is updated. When new cases of cancer in the family are taken into account, a woman has a 4 percent chance that her eligibility for MRI screening will change between age 30 and 50. A US News and World Report article on the same study noted that more patients may be eligible for genetic risk assessment, such as BRCA mutation testing, if family histories are updated over time.

BI-RADS assessment not as predictive for younger women

Radiologists use a Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) to classify mammogram or ultrasound findings. Basically, findings are categorized on a scale from 1 to 5, with one being negative and 5 representing a probable malignancy. A 6 means that malignancy has been proven with a biopsy. A zero means the results were inconclusive.

A July 12 study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment assessed the predictive value of the BI-RADS classifications for women under 50. The researchers compared the accuracy of mammogram and ultrasound reports for women under 50 to the accuracy of the reports for women over 50. They concluded:

The [positive predictive value] PPV of the current screening modalities diminishes markedly in women under the age of 50 and even more below the age of 40. Calcifications and masses larger than 2 cm should be biopsied, but the current BI-RADS criteria may benefit from revision for other findings in young patients.

CT contrast enhancement not required to visualize known breast tumors

According to a July 7 study from The Netherlands published in Radiotherapy and Oncology, "a pre-operative CT scan with contrast enhancement (CE) has recently been proposed to improve tumorbed delineation in breast conserving therapy." The researchers compared contrast enhanced CT to CT without enchantment to determine if contrast enhancement was necessary to visualize known tumors. They concluded that contrast enhancement was not required in "most patients" with a known breast tumor. Visibility on mammogram was a "good parameter to decide on the use" of contrast enhancement.

Exercise may reduce the risk of benign breast changes

A July 12 study in Cancer Causes and Control followed over 40,000 women with no benign breast disease or cancer for four years. The study participants reported on their physical activity levels during adolescence and adulthood. Over the course of the study a "significant inverse association" was observed between walking and the incidence of benign breast disease. Risk was reduced by 9% per hour of walking per week. Risk of columnar lesions was inversely associated with hours of strenuous activity. The authors concluded:

This study suggests that exercise may be inversely associated with the risk of developing proliferative benign breast disease, one of the earliest steps in the development of breast cancer.

Please check back on Monday for weekend breast cancer news highlights. Until then, all of latest news and research on all breast cancer test and treatment options may be found on the website.

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