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AI helps eliminate cancer in women with dense breasts

By Cara Murez
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, October 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) – While mammograms reduce deaths by detecting breast cancer when they are small and easier to treat, they are less effective for women with dense brushes.

However, a new study finds it complementary MRI screening can make a difference for these women, who are more likely to develop breast cancer. And new technology is being used to speed up the process.

Artificial intelligence can quickly and accurately sift through MRIs to rule out breast cancer in the majority who do not have it – releasing radiologists to work on the more complex cases, Dutch researchers report.

In the trial with dense tissue and early breast neoplasm screening (DENSE), investigators trained artificial intelligence technology to distinguish between breasts with and without lesions.

“The DENSE trial showed that additional MRI scans were beneficial for women with extremely dense breasts,” said lead author Erik Verburg of Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands. “On the other hand, the DENSE trial confirmed that the vast majority of the women selected did not have any suspicious findings about MRI.”

Mammography is less sensitive in women with extremely dense breasts than in women with fatty tissue. Women with very dense breasts also have as much as six times the risk of getting breast cancer compared to women with oily breasts. Their risk is twice as great as the average woman.

The study analyzed MRIs of nearly 9,200 extremely dense breasts. Of these, more than 8,300 had no growth and 838 had at least one. Of these, 77 were cancerous.

The model marked 91% of the MRIs with lesions for examination by a radiologist. According to the study, about 40% of the lesion-free MRIs got rid of without missing cancer.

The findings were published in the journal on October 5. Radiology.

“We have shown that it is possible to safely use artificial intelligence to remove breast examination MRIs without missing a malignant disease,” Verburg said in a news release. “The results were better than expected. Forty percent is a good start. However, we still need to improve 60%.”

Verburg said this AI-based system could significantly reduce the workload of radiologists.

“The approach can first be used to help radiologists reduce overall reading time,” Verburg said. “As a result, more time may be available to focus on the really complicated breast MRI scans.”

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on this dense brushes.

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, October 5, 2021

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