MRI for breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment

Lancet. 2011 Nov 19;378(9805):1804-11. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61350-0.


MRI is used widely both for screening women who are at increased risk of breast cancer and for treatment selection. Prospective studies confirm that MRI screening of women with known or suspected genetic mutation results in a higher sensitivity for cancer detection than does mammography. However, survival data are not available. In women with breast cancer, MRI detects cancer not identified with other types of screening. In two randomised trials, this increased sensitivity did not translate into improved selection of surgical treatment or a reduction in the number of operations. Data for longer-term outcomes such as ipsilateral breast tumour recurrence rates and contralateral breast cancer incidence are scarce, but to date do not show clear benefit for MRI. MRI is better than other methods of assessing the response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and is helpful in identifying the primary tumour in patients who present with axillary adenopathy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Axilla
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mammography
  • Mastectomy
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm, Residual / diagnosis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity