For more than six years, the Cancer Center and the MRI Department at Southern Ohio Medical Center have been working together to ensure that patients fighting against, or are at high risk of, breast cancer are able to beat the disease. Now the American Cancer Society has confirmed what SOMC has already been practicing: women can benefit from an MRI exam to locate tumors as well as track the progress of cancer treatment.
“Using MRIs to detect and track breast cancer is a remarkable tool and I think it’s wonderful that the guidelines have been issued,” Chris Sanders, supervisor of the MRI Department at SOMC, said. “They definitely reinforce the procedures we’ve already been using and I hope they will create a greater awareness of the importance of early breast cancer detection.”
The ACS guidelines have always encouraged certain easy steps to help find breast cancer early. These include simple self-exams and an annual check-up with a physician, as well as an annual mammogram after age 40.
Now, the new ACS guidelines are also encouraging women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer to receive annual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screenings in addition to regular mammograms.
“Anyone over the age of 30 who has a strong family history of breast cancer should go through annual MRI screenings,” Sanders said. “The exam is also recommended to symptomless patients who already have abnormal gene mutation, have received chest radiation at a younger age or have been diagnosed with a disease that heightens the risk of developing breast cancer.”
MRI scans are more helpful than mammography alone because of their ability to create more detailed images through magnets and radio waves. Because of this process, MRIs are better at showing increased or abnormal blood flow in the breast, allowing doctors to catch tumors at earlier, more treatable stages.
While MRIs can lead to false-positive results, Sanders says this has not been a problem at SOMC. Last year, the hospital achieved a 96 percent accuracy rate on breast cancer screenings completed through MRI.
“Our statistics are phenomenal and show that our capabilities are of extreme quality matched to hospitals throughout the nation,” Sanders said. “Finding a hospital with the most advanced equipment and qualified staff should be of the utmost importance to every patient and we have the resources to stay healthy right here in our local community.”
For more information on MRIs and breast cancer awareness, talk to your physician or call 356-8329 or 356-8326.