NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) mammography is useful in evaluation of the contralateral breast in patients with diagnosed unilateral breast cancer or high-risk lesions, according to Italian researchers.

In the June issue of Radiology, Dr. Federica Pediconi of "La Sapienza" University, Rome and colleagues note that these women may be at 5 times greater risk of developing a tumor than those in the general population.

To determine whether contrast-enhanced MR mammography might be more effective than conventional techniques in detecting such cancer, the researchers employed the approach in 118 women with a mean age of 52.

All had unilateral breast cancer or high-risk lesions and negative findings in the contralateral breast at physical examination, ultrasonography, and conventional mammography.

Contrast-enhanced MRI detected solitary contralateral lesions in 28 (24%) of patients. In total, 22 of the lesions were histologically confirmed as malignant. The remaining 6 were fibroadenomas.

There were no false negatives. Follow-up of 90 patients for up to 24 months confirmed the absence of contralateral lesions in those who had had negative findings.

With a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 94%, the researchers thus conclude that the technique is "is superior to conventional mammography and high-frequency-transducer ultrasound for the depiction of contralateral breast cancer or high-risk lesions."