Diagnostic imaging, oncology  

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy improves identification of cancerous breast tumours

Oak Brook, Ill., USA. A study published in the August issue of Radiology shows that adding spectroscopic analysis to magnetic resonance (MR) imaging increased both the detection rate of cancerous tumours and the success rate of distinguishing benign from malignant tumours.

MR imaging of the breasts has a high rate of sensitivity (94% – 100%) for detecting tumours, but a variable rate of specificity (37% – 97%) for distinguishing malignant from benign tumours. MR spectroscopy uses the same magnet and electronics as MR imaging, but with specialized methods that produce a "spectrum" identifying different chemical compounds in the tissues. MR spectroscopy has been shown to be useful for looking at various disorders, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and certain inflammatory and ischemic diseases. Generally used for the brain, spectroscopy poses no known health risk to patients and typically adds only seven to 10 minutes to the MR procedure.

For the study, four radiologists evaluated 55 breast MR imaging cases that had findings confirmed through earlier biopsies. The evaluations were done with and without MR spectroscopy. The addition of spectroscopy resulted in more cancerous tumours detected (from 87% to 94%), a higher success rate for distinguishing benign from malignant tumours (from 51% to 57%) and a greater agreement among the radiologists on their findings. Also, with the addition of spectroscopic readings, two of the four radiologists had significantly improved sensitivity to detect cancerous tumours and all four participants achieved significantly improved accuracy in assigning a probability of malignancy.

"Adding spectroscopy to breast MR examinations will not only reduce concern over possible missed cancers and unnecessary biopsy procedures, it may also improve the efficiency and quality of patient care," said co-author Sina Meisamy, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota Center for Magnetic Resonance Research in Minneapolis.

"Spectroscopy gives us an additional piece of information about the biochemical composition of the tumor," explained senior author Michael Garwood, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research and the Lillian Quist – Joyce Henline Chair in Biomedical Research Professor of Radiology at the University of Minnesota. "When the standard MR imaging exam is inconclusive, the spectroscopy measurement can improve the rate of detecting a cancerous breast tumor."


Radiological Society of North America: www.rsna.org
The RSNA journal Radiology: www.rsna.org/radiologyjnl
Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, University of Minnesota: http://www.cmrr.umn.edu/index.shtml


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