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Breast MRI's Not Always Used Appropriately

Advances in medical technology have gone a long way in helping detect breast cancer, but new research reveals that MRI exams may not be used appropriately in helping to detect the disease.

According to an article in Live Science, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams of the breast are recommended, in conjunction with annual mammograms, as a way to screen for breast cancer in women at high risk for the disease (those women with a lifetime breast cancer risk of greater than 20 percent).

A new study shows that the use of breast MRIs in the U.S. has nearly tripled in recent years: jumping from 42 exams per 10,000 women in 2005 to 115 exams per 10,000 women in 2009. Unfortunately, despite the increase in MRIs for breast cancer detection, less than 5 percent of women at high risk for the disease have received a screening MRI. What's more, about half of women who did receive a screening MRI were at average risk of for breast cancer, with less than a 15 percent chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetimes. In other words, about half of the women receiving breast MRIs are not recommended to have an MRI and only 5 percent of those who should receive the screening test are actually undergoing the procedure.

The study's findings - which were published in JAMA Internal Medicine on November 18, 2013 - show that more work is needed in order to make sure that breast MRIs are used appropriately so that those who stand to benefit from them are the ones who get the screening test.

"To prevent the underuse by women at high risk, and overuse by those at average risk ... we need to strengthen the network of providers, like genetic counselors, who can provide women with the breast cancer risk counseling that they need," said study researcher Karen Wernli, an investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, an organization that aims to improve health care.

Appropriate use of breast MRIs is important because the test has a high rate of false-positives, even though it is good at detecting breast cancer. As a result of its high rate of false-positives, a significant number of women may undergo a number of additional and unnecessary medical tests and procedures.

At Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are committed to ensuring that patients receive the medical care that they deserve. We represent the victims of medical malpractice, whether a misdiagnosis, surgical error, or unnecessary medical treatment. We are dedicated to protecting injured victims and their families, and have obtained record setting and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of our injured clients.

If you suspect that you or a loved one were the victim of medical malpractice or would like more information about the appropriate use of breast MRIs, contact the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible medical malpractice claim.


Steinberg Goodman & Kalish ( is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.


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