MRI of occult breast carcinoma in a high-risk population

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003 Sep;181(3):619-26. doi: 10.2214/ajr.181.3.1810619.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of cancer and the positive predictive value of biopsy in the first screening round of breast MRI in women at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Materials and methods: Retrospective review was performed of the records of 367 consecutive women at high risk of developing breast cancer who had normal findings on mammography and their first breast MRI screening examination during a 2-year period. The frequency of recommending biopsy at the first screening MRI study and the biopsy results were reviewed.

Results: Biopsy was recommended in 64 women (17%). Biopsy revealed cancer that was occult on mammography and physical examination in 14 (24%) of 59 women who had biopsy and in 14 (4%) of 367 women who underwent breast MRI screening. Histologic findings in 14 women with cancer were ductal carcinoma in situ in eight (57%) and infiltrating carcinoma in six (43%). The median size of infiltrating carcinoma was 0.4 cm (range, 0.1-1.2 cm). Two patients had nodes that were positive for cancer. Biopsy revealed high-risk lesions (atypical ductal hyperplasia, atypical lobular hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ, or radial scar) in 13 (4%) of 367 women and other benign findings in 32 (9%) of 367 women who had MRI screening.

Conclusion: Among women at high risk of developing breast cancer, breast MRI led to a recommendation of biopsy in 17%. Cancer was found in 24% of women who underwent biopsy and in 4% of women who had breast MRI screening. More than half the MRI-detected cancers were ductal carcinoma in situ.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mammography
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Time Factors