J Cancer 2017; 8(13):2442-2448. doi:10.7150/jca.16738

Research Paper

Routine Pre-Treatment MRI for Breast Cancer in a Single-Payer Medical Center: Effects on Surgical Choices, Timing and Outcomes

Timothy J Vreeland1✉, John S Berry IV2, Erika Schneble3, Doreen O Jackson3, Garth S Herbert3, Diane F Hale3, Jonathon M Martin3, Madeline Flores3, Adam R Pattyn4, Kai Hata3, Guy T Clifton3, Aaron D Kirkpatrick5, George E. Peoples6

1. Womack Army Medical Center. Department of Surgery. Fort Bragg, NC USA;
2. Washington University School of Medicine. Department of Surgery. St. Louis, MO USA;
3. San Antonio Military Medical Center. Department of Surgery. Ft Sam Houston, TX USA;
4. Madigan Army Medical Center. Department of Surgery. Ft Lewis, WA USA;
5. San Antonio Military Medical Center. Department of Radiology. Ft Sam Houston, TX USA;
6. Cancer Vaccine Development Program. San Antonio, TX USA.

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Vreeland TJ, Berry IV JS, Schneble E, Jackson DO, Herbert GS, Hale DF, Martin JM, Flores M, Pattyn AR, Hata K, Clifton GT, Kirkpatrick AD, Peoples GE. Routine Pre-Treatment MRI for Breast Cancer in a Single-Payer Medical Center: Effects on Surgical Choices, Timing and Outcomes. J Cancer 2017; 8(13):2442-2448. doi:10.7150/jca.16738. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v08p2442.htm

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Introduction: Pre-operative MRI is being used with increasing frequency to evaluate breast cancer patients, but the debate surrounding risks and benefits of this use continues. At our institution, we instituted a standardized protocol for pre-operative MRI. Here, we compare patients seen prior to routine use of MRI to those seen after and examine effects on surgical choices, timing and outcomes.

Methods: This is a retrospective review of a prospectively collected database of all new invasive breast cancers seen from January 2007 to December 2012. The control group (CG) did not receive MRI, while the MRI group (MRG) underwent MRI according to our pretreatment protocol. Groups were compared with regards to basic demographics, initial surgical choices, need for re-excision, and surgical timing. The electronic medical records of patients in the MRG who underwent mastectomy as their initial surgery were examined closely to determine the main factors leading to their choice of surgery. Finally, correlation between findings on MRI and final surgical pathology was analyzed.

Results: Of 282 patients included, 38 were in the CG and 244 in the MRG; the groups were well matched. The MRG had a significantly higher percentage of patients choosing initial mastectomy (MRG: 47.1% vs CG 21.1%, p=0.003). Patients seen in the first 2 years of the study were less likely to choose mastectomy than those enrolled in the latter years (29.2%vs 48.6%, p=0.004). The MRG had a lower chance of return to the operating room for re-excision (15.2% vs 28.9%, p=0.035). The average time from initial imaging to initial surgery was approximately the same between groups (MRG: 39.7 days vs CG 42.1 days, p=0.45) and the MRG actually had shorter time to definitive (margin-negative) surgical management (MRG: 43.5 days vs CG: 50.3 days, p=0.079). One hundred-fifteen patients in the MRG underwent mastectomy as initial surgery. Of these, 64 (55.7%) had no additional findings on MRI and chose mastectomy based on patient preference; 30 patients (26.1%) (29 unilateral, 1 bilateral) had mastectomy because of MRI findings. Of the 31 breasts removed (29 unilateral and 1 bilateral mastectomies) because of MRI findings, 26 (83.9%) had histologic findings that correlated with the MRI findings, while 5 (16.1%) did not.

Conclusion: Patients receiving routine pre-treatment MRI had an increased mastectomy rate, but had a lower re-excision rate. We found no delay to initial surgical therapy and, perhaps more importantly, a slight decrease in time to margin-negative surgical therapy in the MRI group. Women choosing mastectomy after MRI did so because of personal preference over half of the time, while MRI findings influenced this choice in 26% of these women. When MRI findings did lead to mastectomy, these findings were confirmed by pathology results in the vast majority of cases.

Keywords: Pre-Treatment Breast MRI, Breast Conserving therapy, Mastectomy, Re-excision Rate.