MRI Falls Short to Avoid Lymph Node Dissection in Breast Cancer

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While unenhanced MRI may be good at detecting cancer in lymph nodes among breast cancer patients, it’s not good enough to avoid a lymph node dissection, according to research published online in the journal Radiology.

University of Toronto researchers analyzed the preoperative breast MR images of 61 women with invasive breast cancer. “The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 88 percent, 82 percent, and 85 percent, respectively, for axial T1-weighted MR imaging and 84 percent, 77 percent, and 80 percent for DW imaging,” according to the abstract.

A similar study published July 2010 in the Annals of Surgical Oncology reported similar results. In that study, Harvard University researchers looked at 74 women with breast cancer prior to initiation of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC).

The study found that while MRI was “able to predict with moderate sensitivity and specificity whether residual nodal disease was present” it was not adequate to avoid dissection or biopsy, according to the research abstract.