(HealthDay News) — In a simulated screening protocol, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) breast cancer screening is cost-effective for women with extremely dense breasts at a four-year interval, according to a study published online Sept. 29 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

H. Amarens Geuzinge, from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues used the MISCAN-breast microsimulation model to estimate long-term effects and costs associated with several screening protocols containing mammography and/or MRI.

The researchers found that calibration resulted in a conservative fit of the model regarding MRI detection. Other strategies dominated over biennial mammography and biennial mammography plus MRI. Cost-effectiveness was achieved with MRI alone every four years with €15,620 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY), whereas screening with MRI alone every three years resulted in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of €37,181 per QALY. Strategies other than those with mammography and/or a two-year interval resulted in more additional QALYs per additional euro.


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“The results of this study show that the additional costs associated with MRI do indeed pay off,” Christiane Kuhl, M.D., Ph.D., coauthor of an accompanying editorial, said in a statement. “Breast MRI is much more effective in preventing death from breast cancer in women with dense breasts, and its additional costs are more than compensated for by its improved effectiveness.”

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