MRI is an effective tool to distinguish between the blood supply to medial and lateral breast cancer growths, researchers at the University of Miami in Miami, FL and the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel have revealed..
The researchers say that their findings are significant because this differentiation plays an important role in treatment planning and prognosis.
Blood supply of medial tumours is mainly through the internal mammary vessels while lateral tumours 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.
For the study, the researchers evaluated 47 tumours (24 medial and 23 lateral) in comparison to 54 negative and benign cases. Of the 24 medial tumours, 21 predominately received blood from the medial vessel (87percent) while 3 predominately received blood from the lateral vessel (13 percent).
Of the 23 lateral tumours, 11 predominately received blood from the medial vessel (47 percent) while 8 predominately received blood from the lateral vessel (35 percent).
According to the study, 18 percent of the lateral tumour cases didn't demonstrate any predominant vessel.
"We don't have enough data regarding aggressiveness of tumours and their blood supply, only that malignant tumours can change the normal breast blood supply and that this change depends on the tumour location within the breast," said Dr. Grubstein.
"This change can be used as a marker for malignancy in comparison to benign findings.
"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," he added.
The study will be presented during the American Roentgen Ray Society's annual meeting in Washington, DC.