MR mammography in the pre-operative staging of breast cancer in patients with dense breast tissue: comparison with mammography and ultrasound

Eur Radiol. 2004 May;14(5):809-16. doi: 10.1007/s00330-003-2146-7. Epub 2003 Nov 13.


The aim of this study was to determine whether pre-operative MR mammography could predict the extent of breast cancer in patients with dense breasts or whether dense parenchyma will lead to false-positive or inconclusive examinations. Sixty-seven patients with dense breasts with a malignant breast tumor planned for conservative surgery were reviewed. Detection rates of mammography, ultrasound, and MR mammography were studied, and the diameters of the lesions were measured and compared with pathological examination. Pathology revealed breast cancer in 65 patients. Sensitivity for detection of index lesions was 83% for mammography, 70.8% for ultrasound, and 98% for MR mammography. Mammography underestimated tumor extent in 37%, ultrasound in 40%, and MR in 12.5%. Of the 20 patients (31%) with multifocal or multicentric carcinoma, mammography detected the lesions in 35%, ultrasound in 30%, and MR in 100%, with a false-positive rate of 12.5, 14, and 23%. The MR mammography is more accurate in assessing tumor extent and multifocality in patients with dense breasts, but benign changes may lead to false-positive examinations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease / diagnosis*
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Mammography / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / pathology
  • Physical Examination
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary / methods*