WVU Cancer Center Acquires Latest Breast Imaging Tool

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.— West Virginia University’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program has added the latest advancement in the detection of breast cancer to its arsenal of diagnostic tools.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging procedure that is used to analyze the inside of the breast.  MRI creates images through a combination of steady and changing magnetic fields and pulsing radio signals.

At WVU, MRI images are processed with CADstream, a computer-aided detection system designed exclusively for MRI.  CAD enhances breast MRI by providing automated high quality images in a consistent and efficient manner.

According to Charlotte Dillis, M.D., director of WVU’s Breast MRI program, one of the most promising uses of breast MRI is in evaluating women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. “MRI is useful in determining the extent of the cancer, especially in women who have dense breast tissue on mammograms or who have certain types of breast cancer, such as infiltrating lobular carcinoma,” said Dr. Dillis. “The information gained from MRI can help to determine whether the woman is a candidate for lumpectomy or mastectomy.”

Other uses for breast MRI include monitoring tumor size in patients who receive chemotherapy before surgery and differentiating scar tissue from recurrent tumor.  MRI can also evaluate silicone implants for evidence of rupture.

While the mammogram remains the standard way to screen women who show no evidence of breast cancer, dense tissue can decrease the mammogram’s sensitivity in detecting the disease.  Breast MRI can be a very helpful imaging tool for checking dense tissue for cancer.

However, screening with breast MRI is not recommended for the average patient.  Although it is very sensitive for picking up breast cancer, it has a high false positive rate, which means it finds many things that aren’t cancer, leading to additional testing and biopsies. Screening with breast MRI is most beneficial to patients considered at high risk for developing breast cancer. That would include patients with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer and those who’ve tested positive for the breast cancer gene.

 “The studies done on breast MRI are very promising,” Dillis said. “The technique will help us to choose the best treatment approach for each woman and should reduce the possibility of cancer recurrence.”

“MRI is another important breast imaging modality that the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center offers to help many women be diagnosed earlier,” said Judith Schreiman, M.D., director of the Breast Care Center.  “It can provide invaluable information for staging and treating breast cancer.”

The BCC is part of a multidisciplinary team at the Cancer Center that is comprised of medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists and nurses.  Together they develop the best possible treatment plan for each patient.

- WVU -

For more information:
Sherry Stoneking, Cancer Center (304) 293-4599

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