Madrid, August 23, 2022 – MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid has implemented a new radiology protocol for breast cancer based on magnetic resonance imaging in less than 7 minutes. This reduces the duration of the test from the usual 30-40 minutes to between 3 and 7 minutes. The new abbreviated protocol results in greater patient comfort and adherence to the technique, which makes follow-up and monitoring of patients easier. MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid has become one of the first hospitals in Spain to implement the protocol in the field of breast cancer.
Among the benefits of the new protocol is the fact that, thanks to the reduced duration of the procedure, MRI tests can be performed on a greater number of patients at risk of developing or presenting a tumor. As explained by Dr. Silvia Perez, head of the Breast Radiology Section at MD Anderson Madrid, “MRI is very effective in diagnosing breast cancer and is performed to complement the results of mammography and ultrasound. The problem is that it takes a long time to perform. There are not many machines, and they cannot all be dedicated to breast cancer. For that reason, the protocol is usually reserved for women where there are doubts about the diagnosis or high-risk patients. With the abbreviated protocol we can rule out these problems because we can now do multiple resonances in one hour. Furthermore, we can also ensure that more patients have access to the resources and can, therefore, get an early, more accurate diagnosis of breast cancer”.
As the doctor explains, the abbreviated protocol is particularly effective when a normal long protocol has been performed beforehand, a 'traditional' 40-minute MRI as a control document with which to compare the new results. "Then, in the subsequent annual check-ups, we will be able to carry out short MRIs that are not as uncomfortable for the patient".
Application of the new protocol to high and intermediate risk patients
MRI is currently performed at the hospital to diagnose high-risk patients, including women with specific genetic mutations, those who have received radiation therapy to the chest before the age of 30 or women with close relatives with cancer. In addition, MD Anderson Madrid also applies the new protocol to intermediate-risk patients with lesions of uncertain significance, high risk patients or those who have had breast cancer previously with good results. This is not yet included in all clinical guidelines but is being validated and increasingly applied by hospitals.
“The next step we would like to take is to incorporate MRI into the early diagnosis and screening of patients who have dense breasts on mammograms. They are also intermediate-risk patients, since a dense breast increases the risk of breast cancer by up to 5 times that of a patient with fatty breasts, but MRIs are still not performed due to the potential cost of screening these women, the number of which is estimated be up to 70% of the adult female population”, states the doctor. Despite this, a recent study published by researchers in the Netherlands has shown that abbreviated MRI protocols in women with dense breasts is cost-effective and can be performed every two or three years so that patient follow-up is effective and their safety guaranteed1.
In Spain, the Spanish Society for Breast Imaging Diagnosis (SEDIM) is carrying out a trial on patients with lesions of uncertain significance to demonstrate the benefits of magnetic resonance imaging in monitoring after biopsy. The ultimate aim is “to achieve an earlier diagnosis. The sooner cancer is diagnosed, the smaller the lesion will be and therefore the less aggressive surgery will be, and the patient will not have to undergo such aggressive chemotherapy treatment, and the quality of life of the patient will therefore be better”.
Magnetic resonance imaging provides greater certainty in the diagnosis
As a diagnostic test, MRI “detects more and detects earlier”. When the result is completely negative, it provides 98-100% certainty that the patient is healthy and free of breast tumors. It allows doctors to reach areas that mammography and ultrasound do not reach, such as the lymph nodes in the armpit or the deep areas of the breast. In addition to this greater sensitivity, MRI does not use radiation, does not compress the breast and does not cause discomfort.