Breast cancer news round-up: New screening research + another state passes density legislation

It’s been a busy week in the world of breast cancer screening, with study results increasing our collective understanding of how best to use certain screening modalities and imaging protocols, as well as newly enacted legislation at the state level requiring women to be notified of potential risks related to dense breast tissues.

First, a recent study conducted by researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York compared both breast MRI and traditional mammography according to the clinical, imaging and histopathologic features of the cancers they detected at screening, the results of which were published online in the journal Radiology.

“In women at high risk for breast cancer who underwent screening with mammography and MR imaging, invasive cancers were more likely to be detected at MR imaging, whereas most cancers detected at screening mammography were ductal carcinoma in situ,” wrote lead author Janice Sung, MD, and her colleagues. “Annual screening with breast MR imaging and mammography in women at high risk is effective for diagnosis of invasive cancers that are predominantly smaller than a centimeter and node negative."

Results from another screening-focused study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology found that abbreviated breast MRI protocols for high-risk supplemental screening led to a reduction in average scan time of almost 19 minutes per case at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, resulting in a total time savings of 178 hours.

“Abbreviated MRI is as effective as full-protocol MRI for demonstration of cancers in the high-risk screening setting,” said Susan C. Harvey, MD, and her co-authors. “The efficiency and resource savings of an abbreviated protocol would be significant, and would allow for opportunities to provide MRI for additional patients, as well as improved radiologist time management and workflow, with the potential to add real-time MRI interpretation or double reading.”

The nationwide momentum surrounding breast density reporting legislation continued as well, as Oklahoma joined an increasing number of states with breast density reporting laws on the books with the signing of House Bill 2601, which requires healthcare facilities to include density information on mammography reports and notify women with dense breasts of potential cancer risks.

“This is an effort to ensure that women have the information they need to make informed decisions about their health,” said Rep. Mike Ritze, who introduced the bill into the Oklahoma state legislature. “When patients are empowered with information, they are far more likely to act upon that information and take steps to reduce their risk.”

The law makes Oklahoma the twenty-sixth U.S. state to pass some form of breast density legislation.