Background: As part of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Breast Screening (MARIBS), Study women with a family history of breast cancer were assessed psychologically to determine the relative psychological impact and acceptability of annual screening using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and conventional X-ray mammography (XRM).
Methods: Women were assessed psychologically at baseline (4 weeks before MRI and XRM), immediately before, and immediately after, both MRI and XRM, and at follow-up (6 weeks after the scans).
Results: Overall, both procedures were found to be acceptable with high levels of satisfaction (MRI, 96.3% and XRM, 97.7%; NS) and low levels of psychological morbidity throughout, particularly at 6-week follow-up. Low levels of self-reported distress were reported for both procedures (MRI, 13.5% and XRM, 7.8%), although MRI was more distressing (P=0.005). Similarly, higher anticipatory anxiety was reported before MRI than before XRM (P=0.003). Relative to XRM, MRI-related distress was more likely to persist at 6 weeks after the scans in the form of intrusive MRI-related thoughts (P=0.006) and total MRI-related distress (P=0.014). More women stated that they intended to return for XRM (96.3%) than for MRI (88%; P<0.0005). These effects were most marked for the first year of screening, although they were also statistically significant in subsequent years.
Conclusion: Given the proven benefits of MRI in screening for breast cancer in this population, these data point to the urgent need to provide timely information and support to women undergoing MRI.