Women who receive radiation therapy as children and young adults for other diseases such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma have significantly high risk of developing breast cancer in later life.

For the study, researchers reviewed screening breast MRIs performed at MSKCC between January 1999 and December 2008 on women with a history of chest irradiation.

Researchers analysed 247 screening breast MRIs in 91 women, and looked at factors such as number of cancers diagnosed, method of detection, and tumour characteristics.

The study results showed that of the 10 cancer detected during the study period, four were detecting with MRI alone, three with MRI and mammography, and three with mammography alone.

The four cancers identified with MRI alone were invasive, while the three cancers detected with mammography alone were in their early stages.

The addition of MRI to mammography lead to a 4.4% incremental cancer detection rate, while a combination of MRI and mammography demonstrated highest sensitivity in detecting breast cancers.

Lead author of the study Janice Sung said the results support existing recommendations for annual screening MRI as an adjunct to annual mammography in women with a history of chest irradiation.