Diagnosing Cancer

By Health Day

Mammograms are important for protecting women from breast cancer but can their doctors do more to catch this disease?

A new study brought in nearly 3,000 women to try to answer this question. Researchers checked the women for breast cancer with mammograms and ultrasound each year for three years. Then some of the women had an MRI exam of their breasts.

All of these women had a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer. They also had dense breasts, which can cause mammograms to be less effective in finding cancer.

Adding ultrasound to the mammograms found more cancers. The researchers discovered even more cancers when they added an MRI to the mammograms and ultrasound. However, this benefit came with a downside.

Using more methods to look for breast cancer meant that women had a higher risk of false positives. This means the test suggested they had breast cancer when they really didn't. This kind of news can cause anxiety, and it can lead women to have biopsies of their breasts that they don't really need.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women start having annual mammograms at age 40, and a small number of women should also have breast screening using an MRI.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news that doctors are reading; health news that matters to you.