Shorter MRIs More Effective than 3D Mammography, Study Indicates

Dr. Christopher Comstock

Dr Christopher Comstock. Photo by Ethan Kavet.

Anyone who has undergone a breast MRI knows that the procedure can be lengthy, expensive, and uncomfortable. A new study in JAMA from the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, lead by MSK’s Dr. Christopher Comstock, indicates there may be an effective alternative.

Researchers from 48 institutions compared 10-minute breast MRI exams to 3D mammography in a multi-center study of nearly 1,500 women with dense breasts. The abbreviated MRI found invasive cancers in 17 women and non-invasive cancer in 5 women. 3D mammography found invasive cancers in 7 women and non-invasive cancer 2 women.

In an interview with NPR, Dr. Comstock said that an MRI that takes a third of the time as normal could cut down the cost significantly. But more research is needed before it becomes a standard practice.

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Looking Back at Drug Discovery Success

MSK’s Dr. Charles Sawyers recently won the inaugural STAT Biomedical Innovation Award. Earlier this month, STAT published a video of an interview with Sawyers, during which he discusses stories behind his groundbreaking work and his hopes for the future of cancer treatment.

Dr. Sawyers is MSK’s Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program. Learn more about his discoveries of targeted cancer therapies in this MSK feature.

Largest Reduction in Year-to-Year U.S. Cancer Death Rate Reported

The cancer death rate in the United States dropped 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, the most recent data available. This is the largest annual decrease ever reported.

Figure 2 from "Cancer, 2020"

“Long‐term trends in cancer incidence rates for all cancers combined by sex.” From Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D., & Jemal, A. (2020). Cancer statistics, 2020. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 70(1), 7–30. doi:10.3322/caac.21590.

In discussing this American Cancer Society data, numerous outlets quoted MSK physicians. In The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Helena Yu pointed to advances in immunotherapy as one factor in the decline. On NBC Nightly News, Dr. Larry Norton mentioned these treatment advances while describing some areas of concern. While screening is “very good” for colorectal cancer and breast cancer, he said, “not everybody is taking advantage of that.”

Stat News and included content tweeted by Dr. Peter Bach. He noted that the increase in other causes of death, like suicide and overdoses, may have contributed to the decline in cancer mortality.