Does three-dimensional functional infrared imaging improve breast cancer detection based on digital mammography in women with dense breasts?

Eur Radiol. 2019 Nov;29(11):6227-6235. doi: 10.1007/s00330-019-06248-y. Epub 2019 May 21.


Purpose: We aimed to estimate the incremental cancer detection rate achieved by adding three-dimensional functional infrared imaging (3DIRI) to digital mammography in women with dense breasts.

Materials and methods: In this prospective study conducted between December 2014 and April 2016, 1727 women (median age 56) with percentage volumetric breast density > 6% were recruited at routine screening mammography to undergo additional 3DIRI. The 3DIRI findings were classified as negative or positive. Women with a negative mammography but positive 3DIRI were referred to dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI, whereas all other women underwent routine follow-up based on the mammography finding. Diagnosis of breast cancer was verified by histopathologic examination. The number of women diagnosed with a malignancy formed the basis of our statistical analysis.

Results: Mammography detected 7 cancers in 7 women. Of 1692 women with negative mammography, 222 women (13%) had a positive 3DIRI of which 219 underwent MRI. An additional 6 cancers were identified in 5 women, increasing the diagnostic yield from 7 of 1727 (0.41%) to 12 of 1727 (0.69%). The incremental cancer detection rate associated with using 3DIRI to select women for MRI was 5 of 222 (22.5 additional cancers per 1000).

Conclusion: The use of 3DIRI to select women for an additional MRI can result in the detection of additional cancers in women with dense breasts, but at the expense of additional false positives and considerably lower positive predictive value of the combined examinations. Additional studies are necessary to evaluate the role of 3DIRI as an adjunct to mammography.

Key points: • Use of three-dimensional functional infrared imaging to select women for an MRI in addition to screening mammography has the potential to improve breast cancer detection in women with dense breasts.

Keywords: Breast density; Breast neoplasms; Magnetic resonance imaging; Mammography; Risk assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Density*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared / methods*

Grant support