Published on the Nov. 15, 2011, DiagnosticImaging.com website
By Whitney L.J. Howell
Mammography versus magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been a long-standing debate among industry leaders. The general consensus today, however, is while both tests effectively detect breast cancer and can work hand-in-hand, mammography is still indispensable.
According to the American Cancer Society, each year brings 1.3 million new breast cancer diagnoses, and catching these incidents early is critical to saving lives. While mammography has sliced the associated death rate by 30 percent since 1990, 465,000 women still die each year.
But breast imaging isn’t about choosing one scan over another, said Mitchell Schnall, MD, a Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania radiologist. Instead, you should focus on using both techniques correctly to identify cancers earlier when they’re smaller and potentially more treatable.
“We shouldn’t talk about MRI or mammography — they’re different modalities with different roles,” Schnall said. “Mammography is for general patient screening, and we use MRI to screen our high-risk patients. Their roles are complementary. The discussion should never be which one do we do.”
And the screenings aren’t interchangeable, experts said.
“Mammography is the backbone of how we diagnose breast cancer,” said David Dershaw, MD, a radiologist with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “There are situations where MRI can add information we can’t get from mammography, but it can’t be a replacement.”
To read the remainder of the article (and the pros and cons of MRI and mammography): http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/womens-imaging/content/article/113619/1991558