Rapid breast MRI could save thousands from cancer

    We are pleased to announce that RMI’s chairman, Dr. David Strahle, has just published his peer-reviewed study of a breast MRI screening method that could save thousands of women from breast cancer. The seven-year effort is unlike any other research addressing this subject and could affect half the world’s female population.

    The new method is applicable for screening women with dense breast tissue and can spot breast cancer four to six years earlier than mammographic technology. Using such technology for women with dense breast tissue is simply not as effective as MRI in spotting cancer, Dr. Strahle said, adding that dense tissue can hide suspicious tumors on a mammogram x-ray. Due to its lower cost, mammograms are the current standard for breast cancer screening.

    Normally, breast MRI is recommended only for women at high risk for cancer (2% of the population) due to cost. However Dr. Strahle’s “Rapid Breast MRI” protocol cuts scan time by 70 percent to only 7 minutes, significantly reducing costs and enabling its use for screening women with dense breasts. The research also includes an easier method for radiologists to read the exams, greatly lowering the false positive rate to below that of any other breast screening method.

    Unlike tomosynthesis (3D mammography) or mammograms, MRIs do not use x-rays (radiation).

    Although insurance providers do not yet cover Rapid Breast MRI, the exam costs $395 out-of-pocket at RMI, compared with a diagnostic MRI that runs $700 or more. In addition to reducing scan time, screening Rapid Breast MRI can potentially be conducted every other year, instead of yearly as with mammograms. This equates to an annual cost of only $198, less than the average breast screening costs of $252 across mid-Michigan.

    Breast cancer continues to be a leading cause of death in women. About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes, with 85% of those cancers occurring in women with no family history, according to breastcancer.org.

    This is a major breakthrough,” Dr. Strahle said. “I can see a day when we may very well prevent this disease from killing women.”

    To read Dr. Strahle’s research, please visit https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-017-4112.