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Topic: MRI false negatives?

Forum: Waiting for Test Results — Biopsy, mammogram, CAT scan, PET scan, ultrasound, or other tests.

Posted on: Feb 13, 2009 06:14AM

worried4sis wrote:

My sister over two weeks had a mammogram, then an ultrasound and yesterday a contrast dye MRI due to two solid masses - one large, the other smaller - the radiologist said he doesn't see anything that makes him think she has cancer.  Does anyone have information on the conclusiveness of MRI's?  I thought I had heard about MRI's having false negatives, but being overwhelmed trying to find information maybe it is false positives.  Can we relax now with these results?  Thanks!

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Posts 1 - 21 (21 total)

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Feb 13, 2009 07:23AM Annabella58 wrote:

Well, it does sound like cysts, but what I don't understand is why she isn't being referred to a breast surgeon.  They should be seen by one and she should bring all the mammo screens, USs, MRI reports and/or screens forwarded to surgeon and let him make a final diagnosis.  This could be a "yes, they are nothing" or a "yeah, we should biopsy them and see for sure".  No way to tell without that.

I would not leave it at that...If a radiologist says it most likely is not cancer, then she can most likely rest easier, but I certainly would get a referral to a good breast surgeon for definitive answer.

Good luck to both of you!!

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Feb 13, 2009 07:24AM StaceyR wrote:

It's my understanding that MRIs are so sensitive they tend to actually produce a lot of false positives.  It sounds like she's probably in the clear.
Dx 3/18/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 04/22/2008 Lumpectomy (Left)Chemotherapy 06/05/2008 Cytoxan, Ellence, fluorouracil, TaxotereRadiation Therapy 10/05/2008 External
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Feb 13, 2009 11:25AM faithandfifty wrote:

I don't know about 'relaxing'

but my MRI produced a false positive as determined by the subsequent MRI guided biopsy......

so they certainly do happen.

Keep up with my travels at: www.rainbowswithinreach.blogspot.com

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Feb 13, 2009 11:34AM maryannecb wrote:

Sorry to say I am one of those....despite large lump...alll of the tests said i had fibrocystic disease. biopsy 2 weeks later as grew again proved 9cm IDC.

Best to have lumps biopsied.

The radiologist was horrified...but not as much as i was.

But here i am 3 years later...still...OK and back at life.

Fists up!

Dx 9/20/2005, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 2/14 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Feb 13, 2009 11:41AM suemed8749 wrote:

My breast surgeon ordered an MRI before surgery - from mammo, ultrasound and biopsy, we already knew I had an approx. 2 cm IDC. She was puzzled by the results of the MRI - she said that it showed nothing indicating cancer in the breast. Two lumpectomies and a mastectomy later, we knew that I had a 2.2 IDC, a smaller IDC and two ducts of DCIS. NONE of it showed up on the MRI. I think false negatives are rare, but they obviously do happen.

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Feb 13, 2009 02:30PM hopefor30 wrote:

My MRI pre-surgery did not detect my 3mm invasive tubular cancer.   I was told it showed extensive DCIS (6cm span with largest segment just about 1cm) but no signs of invasive cancer.   After my excisioinal biopsy, the invasive tubular was found.

M.

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Feb 16, 2009 12:14PM comingtoterms wrote:

To my knowledge, each of these tests: MRI, Ultrasound, Mammography -  have their own special capabilities, but nothing can tell you whether you actually have cancer other than a biopsy.  Been there, done that - the radiologist doing my core biopsy actually told me not to worry, "it doesn't look like cancer."  Three days later he called, incredibly uncomfortable and embarassed to tell me that he was wrong - I have IDC.  The pathologist tells you whether you have cancer.  I just had an MRI that showed another very small spot in a different quadrant of my breast - they are now sending me for an MRI guided biopsy.  It could well be "cyclic" - I am 48, still menstruating, and the MRI was done just before my period, but I am happy that they are being so diligent.
Dx 1/9/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 1/27 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 18, 2009 01:13AM, edited Mar 21, 2009 03:13AM by taraleec

This Post was deleted by taraleec.
Dx 4/2/2008, LCIS, 5cm, Stage 0, 0/0 nodes
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Feb 18, 2009 12:01PM comingtoterms wrote:

It is becoming more and more obvious as I read all these postings that much is found during surgery that was not picked up during testing.  It just goes to show that technology can go just so far - we still need human beings at the helm of the ship, using their hands and eyes to find and see what is really there- it is easy to become paranoid when technology has previously "let you down." - I would insist on a biopsy, taraleec.

Dx 1/9/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 1/27 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 18, 2009 03:38PM KathyAlex1960 wrote:

My MRI was negative.  A false negative.  I had the biopsy 2 days later.  Invasive lobular cancer, Stage II.  Hmm Hmmm  Only the pathologist can give a true result after looking at the cells.  I was so happy when the MRI was negative..............

Dx 12/13/2008, ILC, 3cm, Stage IIb, Grade 2, 3/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 19, 2009 05:10AM ravdeb wrote:

If your MRI was negative, what did you biopsy?

I recently had an MRI. The radiologist said that the tiny spot (less than 5mm) deep inside the breast appears to be a vascular thingy (okay..she didn't say "thingy"). I was just at the onc today who read the report (she's the second onc to read it) and she said it's all clear and not to worry about it. More than that, it was recommended to have another MRI in a year and the onc said "we will talk about it at your next appt". She said I should have a mammo, this same radiologist (best in our country I was told) will read the mammo and decide from that. I have dense breasts and for two years now the radiologist who was reading my mammos says she just sees all white.

I don't know who to believe!

IDC, 2cm, triple negative, grade 3, node neg

Dx 9/5/2005, IDC, 2cm, Stage Ia, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 19, 2009 11:58AM comingtoterms wrote:

Wow- two scary postings - so similar to my situation - premenopausal women's breasts are just way too difficult to read - we typically have dense tissue - so if you are told that the cancer you have has probably been there for eight years, then why would it take eight years, eight mammograms and finally a biopsy to detect it?   I think that dense breasts should be included as a risk factor for breast cancer - how many of us have been told that they "just couldn't see it until it was too late?"

Dx 1/9/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 1/27 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 19, 2009 11:59AM Misawa47 wrote:

Hi ravdeb, I had an MRI where they found a 6mm mass. The doctor recommended an ultrasound and a biopsy "just to make sure". I have to travel for procedures; however, my local hospital here can perform the ultrasound. My long-distance doctor said that if the ultrasound did not reveal the mass as something other than a cyst, he would like to perform another MRI in 6 months to see if there are any changes. I would at the very least request an MRI in 6 months to watch this "thingy" "just in case" .

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Feb 19, 2009 12:19PM comingtoterms wrote:

We need to be very proactive about taking care of our bodies - If there is a mass, the only way to diagnose it is through a biopsy - plain and simple - I would so very much encourage you to insist on a biopsy if the ultrasound determines it is a solid mass - MRIs do show false positives, it's true, but otherwise you will spend six months worrying about something that could be cleared up right now.

Dx 1/9/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 1/27 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 19, 2013 08:08AM KELLYJ1971 wrote:

In need of some help and advise , I had a yearly routine mamo done about a month ago which read as follows

" exam shows fibroglandular densities in both breast, there are some bengn-appearing calcifications inner lower right breast due to a previous reduction performed in 2005 as per patient ,,, then goes on to say "a nodular asymmetric density in the UPPER OUTER ASPECT of  right breast new since prior sudy in 6/2011 "

I was sent for a Compression mamo the following week which read as follows

" there is a 1.3 right UPPER OUTER breast focal asymmetric density with irregular margins confirmed on the CC focal compression view but is not confirmed on the additional views as to a true mass in more than one projection although this may be a focal asymmetry in one view only it rasies the possibilty of an occult mass obscured by the scattered fibroglandular parenchymal densities therefore a biospy is strongly recommended along with referral to breast surgeon"

I then was sent for a MRI which reads  "

Examination shows some patchy breast tissue in the deep 12 oclock postion of the left breast and the LOWER OUTER right breast ,,fat necrosis OUTER LOWER ASPECT RIGHT breast with patchy parenchymal tissue, benigin and yearly follow up suggested"

Here is my concern the compression mamo states the 1.3 cm focal asymmetric density was found in the UPPER OUTER right breast ,, there is nothing in the MRI report that addresses this area only the LOWER OUTER right which we already know is calcifications from the routine mamo this is from my breast reduction i had back in 2005, should i be happy the results from the MRI didnt mention this area the mamo found? Did they just not see it because of where its located (i cant even feel a lump), also i was referred to a breast surgeon that i wont see for two more weeks, I did a little research on the internet and some of the things i found that seem to go along with my findings from the CC are NOT good also just some things i have been experiencing like recent (last 8 months or so)tingling of the nipple in my right breast which i thought was from the reduction ,, Im scared to death because I have heard so many stories of women that their doctors have told ohhh its no big deal we'll watch it ,,then 2-3 years later they find out they have stage 3 4 or 5 , I have been having mamos every year since the age of 33 (im now 41)without ANY question even after my reduction not even a "blip" It was reccomened by my GP due to not knowing my history because of being adopted ,, where do i go from here and should i been worried ????

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Jan 19, 2013 09:12AM marie5890 wrote:

My research on breast MRI's has lead me to understand they are very well know for  false positives, not false negatives.

DO NOT READ ANYTHING INTO THE TECH'S EXPRESSION OR WHAT THE TECH SAYS. Jan '11 Biopsy Dx-ed a PASH tumor (rare, but benign tumor)....All I ask is for peace and serenity to the depths of my soul. Makes the rest of life more live-able.

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Jan 19, 2013 09:14AM marie5890 wrote:

(my apologizes...I didnt realize this was a very old thread dating back to '09)

DO NOT READ ANYTHING INTO THE TECH'S EXPRESSION OR WHAT THE TECH SAYS. Jan '11 Biopsy Dx-ed a PASH tumor (rare, but benign tumor)....All I ask is for peace and serenity to the depths of my soul. Makes the rest of life more live-able.

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Jan 20, 2013 04:59PM BrandieMcAdams wrote:

It is old Marie, but I'm glad you commented as I had a similar question about false negatives on MRIs as well. I have a palpable lump that ultraound dx as "A complex Cyst" (and later my BS raised the question of tumor) but yet my MRI just says I have dense breast tissue...no lump or abnormalities.

very odd to me.

ps, I'm 26 with dense tissue so I wonder if that affected it

Surgery 05/24/2004 Lumpectomy (Left)Surgery 01/25/2013 Lumpectomy (Left)
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Jan 21, 2013 01:45AM marie5890 wrote:

MRI's are best done for young women like you with dense breast tissue, or any woman with dense breast tissue. 

Each of the imagining (mammo, U/S, MRI) give a different view of things. Im not sure a cyst would be pick up on and MRI.

From what I have read about MRI's (I had one myself) I would be relieved upon hearing that your MRI picked up nothing. 

MRI's are extremely sensitive, that is why they are notorious for false positives and why insurance companies baulk at their use prior to a diagnosis. But they are very helpful for women like you with dense tissue...

DO NOT READ ANYTHING INTO THE TECH'S EXPRESSION OR WHAT THE TECH SAYS. Jan '11 Biopsy Dx-ed a PASH tumor (rare, but benign tumor)....All I ask is for peace and serenity to the depths of my soul. Makes the rest of life more live-able.

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Jan 21, 2013 12:38PM BrandieMcAdams wrote:

The BS I am seeing decided to do an excisional biopsy. Should know more after surgery 

on Friday.

Surgery 05/24/2004 Lumpectomy (Left)Surgery 01/25/2013 Lumpectomy (Left)
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Jan 21, 2013 12:49PM marie5890 wrote:

Good luck with the surgery!! The waiting period so sucks....

DO NOT READ ANYTHING INTO THE TECH'S EXPRESSION OR WHAT THE TECH SAYS. Jan '11 Biopsy Dx-ed a PASH tumor (rare, but benign tumor)....All I ask is for peace and serenity to the depths of my soul. Makes the rest of life more live-able.