The randomised controlled study took place in 45 UK centres, recruiting 1623 women aged 18 years or older with biopsy-proven primary breast cancer who were scheduled for surgery to remove their tumours after triple assessment. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either MRI (816) or no further imaging (807).

The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients undergoing a repeat operation or further mastectomy within 6 months of randomisation, or a pathologically avoidable mastectomy at initial operation.

The researchers have found that the addition of MRI to conventional triple assessment was not associated with a reduced reoperation rate, with 153 (19%) needing reoperation in the MRI group versus 156 (19%) in the no MRI group.

This is the conclusion of the Comparative Effectiveness of MRI in breast cancer (COMICE) study, written by professor Lindsay Turnbull, University of Hull, Hull Royal Infirmary and colleagues.

Elizabeth Morris of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre and Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, said: “It is too early to completely dispense with preoperative breast MRI. COMICE has shown that preoperative breast MRI might not be for all women and that routine breast MRI in the evaluation of early breast cancer, as managed by those participating in this study, does not decrease reoperation rates.”