Magnetic Resonance Imaging detects breast cancer at earlier stages than mammography, according to a study recently published in Oncology.

Around 15 percent of women with breast cancer were diagnosed despite having no causative hereditary gene mutation but had a family history of breast cancer. To better understand diagnosis rates, researchers from Erasmus University in the Netherlands implemented a randomized controlled trial (FaMRIsc) throughout 12 hospitals in the Netherlands to compare the efficacy of MRI screening against mammography in women with a family history of breast cancer.

The study took place between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2017 with 1,355 participants. Of the group, 675 were randomly designated to MRI screening and 680 to mammography. The average number of screening rounds per participant was 4-3. Overall, there was a higher number of breast cancer diagnoses in the MRI group than in the mammography group. Cancer tumor stages identified at incident rounds were spotted much earlier in the MRI group.

The researchers ultimately determined that lower number of late-stage cancers identified in incident rounds could decrease the need of adjuvant chemotherapy and reduce the rate of breast cancer-related deaths. Yet, they also warn that MRI screening could result in more false-positive results, in particular for women with high breast density.