MRI Before Surgery Leads to Better Treatment

Dr. David Martinez-Cecilia, a surgeon from the General Surgery Service, directed by Prof. Rufian-Peña, in the Hospital Universitario Reina Sofia, Cordoba, Spain, said that this technique should become standard in determining the stage of the tumour before any operation. Martinez-Cecilia and his team studied 249 patients who were undergoing surgery for breast cancer, and carried out routine MRI as soon as a biopsy showed malignancy. If additional lesions were discovered, a further biopsy was carried out on them.

“Using MRI, we found 20 additional malignant lesions in 18 patients,” he said, “and that meant that for 15 patients we were able to change the surgical treatment to one which took care of all the tumours, as opposed to the single one that had originally been diagnosed.” Three patients needed surgery in both breasts, one required a second lumpectomy in the same breast, and eleven changed from lumpectomy to mastectomy.

The surgical treatment also changed in those patients where the MRI showed up a larger tumour than that which was originally identified; 16 other patients changed from lumpectomy to mastectomy, and one from lumpectomy to quadrantectomy, a partial mastectomy where the tumour and some surrounding breast tissue is removed to be sure that the margins around the tumour are cancer-free.

The scientists then carried out a retrospective analysis of the surgical outcomes. “We found that the changes in surgical treatment had been beneficial in 22 patients (9 percent), non beneficial in six patients (2.4 percent), and uncertain in four patients (1.6 percent),” said Martinez-Cecilia. “The results also showed us that MRI is the best imaging technique for measuring tumour size, better than mammography or ultrasound.; Source: European Cancer Organisation