The use of MRI is effective in differentiating the blood supply to medial and lateral breast tumors, which is important in treatment planning and prognosis according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Miami in Miami, FL and the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel.
Blood supply of medial tumors is mainly through the internal mammary vessels while lateral tumors may be supplied by both the internal or lateral mammary branches.
"MRI is currently the best modality enabling us to visualize not only cancer in the breast but the effect it has on the surrounding anatomy, especially regarding vascular supply and lymphatic drainage," said Ahuva Grubstein, MD, of the Rabin Medical Center and lead author of the study.
The study evaluated 47 tumors (24 medial and 23 lateral) in comparison to 54 negative and benign cases. Of the 24 medial tumors, 21 predominately received blood from the medial vessel (87%) while 3 predominately received blood from the lateral vessel (13%). Of the 23 lateral tumors, 11 predominately received blood from the medial vessel (47%) while 8 predominately received blood from the lateral vessel (35%). According to the study, 18% of the lateral tumor cases didn't demonstrate any predominant vessel.
"We don't have enough data regarding aggressiveness of tumors and their blood supply, only that malignant tumors can change the normal breast blood supply and that this change depends on the tumor location within the breast," said Dr. Grubstein. "This change can be used as a marker for malignancy in comparison to benign findings," he said.
"Our findings support existing differences between medial and lateral breast tumors regarding metastatic spread and survival. These differences may indicate a need for differential treatment modalities according to location," said Dr. Grubstein.
The full results of this study will be presented as an electronic exhibit beginning Monday, April 14, 2008 during the American Roentgen Ray Society's annual meeting in Washington, DC.
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