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Use of preoperative magnetic resonance imaging for breast cancer: a Canadian population-based study


Importance — Contrary to practice guidelines, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used in the preoperative evaluation of women with breast cancer. While existing literature has found little benefit to MRI in most patients, potential downstream consequences associated with breast MRI are not well described.

Objective — To describe patterns of preoperative breast MRI utilization in a healthcare system with universal insurance and its association with downstream investigations and clinical outcomes.

Design, Setting, and Participants — This was a population-based retrospective cohort study using administrative heath care databases in Ontario, Canada (2012 population, 13.5 million) over 14 geographic regions were evaluated within the data set. Participants comprised 53 015 patients with primary operable breast cancer treated from 2003 to 2012.

Main Outcomes and Measures — Use of preoperative breast MRI by year, geographic region, and breast cancer stage. Postdiagnosis imaging, biopsy, and short-term surgical outcomes were also evaluated between those who did and did not receive MRI.

Results — Overall, 14.8% of patients (7824 of 53 015) had a preoperative MRI. During the 10-year study period, MRI use increased across all stages by 8-fold (from 3% to 24%; P < .001 for trend). Factors associated with MRI use were younger age, higher socioeconomic status, higher Charlson comorbidity score, surgery performed in a teaching hospital, and fewer years of surgeon experience. Multivariate analyses showed that preoperative breast MRI was associated with higher likelihood of the following: postdiagnosis breast imaging (odds ratio [OR], 2.09; 95% CI, 1.92-2.28), postdiagnosis breast biopsies (OR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.57-1.93), postdiagnosis imaging to assess for distant metastatic disease (OR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.42-1.61), mastectomy (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.62-1.85), contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.23-1.77), and a greater than 30-day wait to surgery (OR, 2.52; 95% CI, 2.36-2.70) (all ORs are adjusted).

Conclusions and Relevance — Preoperative breast MRI use has increased substantially in routine clinical practice and is associated with a significant increase in ancillary investigations, wait time to surgery, mastectomies, and contralateral prophylactic mastectomies.



Arnaout A, Catley C, Booth CM, McInnes M, Graham I, Kumar V, Simos D, van Walraven C, Clemons M. JAMA Oncol. 2015; 1(9):1238-50. Epub 2015 Sep 24.

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