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Repeat MRI for breast cancer leads to fewer false-positives

Repeat MRI screenings for breast cancer are associated with fewer false-positive results, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

The study was designed to determine if availability of prior MR images for comparison decreases the rate of false positives associated with the initial MRI breast screening exam.

In the study, researchers reviewed reports from 650 consecutive screening MRI breast exams, of which 307 MRIs were the patient’s first and 343 were annual or repeat screening MRI exams.

According to the analysis, MRI identified two cancers in the baseline group, with a detection rate of 0.65%, and in the repeat screening group, it identified four cancers and the detection rate was nearly double at 1.17%.

The rate of false positives was 13% in the baseline group, compared to 5.6% in the repeat screening group.

In addition, women undergoing MRI exam for the first time were four times more likely to be recommended for a repeat MRI exam in six months, compared to those who had one or more prior MRI exams.

Study author, Martha Mainiero said that false positives are a risk of the breast MRI procedure, but the rate decreases following the initial round of screening.

"This information should provide reassurance for high-risk patients who are considering undergoing annual MRI screening exams," Mainiero said.