Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Use of Abbreviated Breast MRI to Screen for Breast Cancer in Women With Dense Breasts

By: Jenna Carter, PhD
Posted: Monday, January 18, 2021

In an article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers presented their findings with early clinical implementation of abbreviated breast MRI as a supplemental screening tool for breast cancer. This screening technique was used in asymptomatic, average-risk women with dense breasts who previously had negative, benign results with a customary or three-dimensional mammogram. Research has shown that dense breast tissue decreases mammographic sensitivity and may mask positive results. Emily F. Conant, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues reported a cancer detection rate of 27.4 per 1,000 with abbreviated breast MRI.  

“Mammogram is the best tool we have to detect breast cancer, but it’s not perfect. In women with fatty tissue, we can very easily detect cancer. But in women with very dense breasts, the sensitivity can be [as] low as 30%. We need to start thinking about how to better screen women with dense breasts, and abbreviated breast MRI is an effective and feasible option,” stated coauthor Susan Weinstein, MD, also of the University of Pennsylvania, in an institutional press release.

Data from 475 women were the focus of the study. Imaging was performed or collected retrospectively from electronic medical records, and the Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System was used to assess the prevalent cancer detection rate. Their findings revealed an overall prevalent cancer detection rate of 27.4 (13 of 475; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 16.1–46.3) per 1,000 women. And at 1-year follow-up, there were no interval cancers. The researchers suggest that the sensitivity of abbreviated breast MRI was 100% (13 of 13; 95% CI = 77.2%–100%).

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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