(HealthDay News) — Initial results indicate that annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and digital mammography can form an effective screening program for women at high risk of breast cancer, according to research published online June 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Anna M. Chiarelli, PhD, from Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto, and colleagues compared performance measures after assessment with screening results for 2,207 women with initial screening examinations from the Ontario Breast Screening Program. In July 2011, the program was expanded to screen women aged 30–69 years at high breast cancer risk with annual MRI and digital mammography.

The researchers found that the recall rate was significantly higher among women who had abnormal MRI alone versus mammogram alone (15.1 vs. 6.4%). None of the 35 breast cancers detected (16.3 per 1,000) were identified by mammogram alone, while 65.7% were detected by MRI alone. Seventy-one percent were detected among women who were known gene mutation carriers. Detection based on mammogram and MRI was associated with highest positive predictive value (12.4%).

“Screening with annual MRI combined with mammography has the potential to be effectively implemented into an organized breast screening program for women at high risk for breast cancer,” the authors write.

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