Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Features May Be Associated with Cancer

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Features May Be Associated with Cancer

Take-Home Message:

Breast MRI measurements of fatty acids may help predict a woman’s breast cancer risk.


Evaluation of Breast Lipid Composition in Patients with Benign Tissue and Cancer by Using Multiple Gradient-Echo MR Imaging

Authors: Freed, M. et. al.

Source: Radiol 2016;000(0):1-11

The connection between body fat and breast cancer development is under investigation. This group pointed out that there is conflicting data about the relationships of overall body fat, dietary fat intake and breast cancer. While a significant amount of body fat is derived from the diet, other types of fat are produced by the body. The overall measurements of both are not reliably accurate. This study evaluated fat composition of the breast and its relationship to cancer.

Over 80 women, aged 24-77, who underwent breast MRI over a one year period were involved in the study. An extra 5-minute examination was performed at the end of their imaging acquisition. This examination provided data to measure saturated fatty acid (SFA), monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels in the breasts.

For postmenopausal women, there were two findings.  SFA levels were higher and MUFA levels were lower in the breasts of women with cancer.  PUFA levels were higher and SFA levels were lower in the breasts of women without cancer.  For the premenopausal women, there were no observed differences in breast fatty acid levels.

The investigators remarked that the women in this study were at high risk for developing breast cancer.  They were undergoing breast MRI for high risk screening, follow up of an abnormality or suspicion of cancer.  The findings may not hold up among women of average risk, and it is recommended that further study be performed to assess breast fatty acid composition among larger numbers of women.

Furthermore, the fatty acids measured in the breasts are made endogenously (naturally) by the body and do not correlate with dietary intake.  This study emphasizes that more investigation is needed into the specific links between type of fat and breast cancer risk.