Adding MRIs to standard breast cancer screening for women with a familial risk of breast cancer is costly but worth the added expense, a new study finds.
A team of researchers from the Netherlands reported the findings of a new study showing MRI’s cost-effectiveness for some women at the European Breast Cancer Conference.
For the study, researchers tracked 1,597 women who were at greater risk of developing breast cancer because of a family history of the disease. Over an eight-year period, the women underwent a clinical breast examination every six months and had an annual mammography and MRI between the ages of 25-70.
The researchers then calculated the cost per detected cancer and compared it to the women’s mortality rates.
"We found that it costs approximately three times as much to add MRI to the screening process for every estimated one year of life saved," said Dr, Sepideh Saadatmand, a physician at the Erasmus University Medical Center.
Based on their analysis, researchers said MRI scans would be cost effective for women who have a familial risk of developing the disease. Prior research has already confirmed a benefit for using MRI scans to screen women who have inherited gene defects linked to breast cancer -- BRCA1 and BRCA2 --- because they face a much higher risk of developing breast cancer, and at an early age.