Annual MRI with mammo can improve survival rates, but at what cost?

Annual MRI scans combined with mammography could improve survival rates for women with familial risk for breast cancer, although this screening regimen may be cost effective only with certain demographic groups, according to a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer institute.

The researchers, Reuters Health reported, calculated that screening with additional MRI costs $123,672 per detected breast cancer, and that costs per detected breast cancer decreased with age, probably because of the increasing incidence of breast cancer in older age groups.

"Although cost per detected and treated breast cancer was most expensive in the youngest age categories, one would expect additional MRI also to be most useful, as breast density is more often high in premenopausal women, which decreases sensitivity of mammography, but not of MRI," the researchers wrote. Article