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Watch Out for Breast Cancer on all CT Chest Scans

People undergo CT scans for all kinds of reasons. However, a recent study published in the German medical journal RöFo, is urging radiologists to take a closer look when reading a woman’s CT scan. The researchers found that after reviewing 1,100 chest CT scans, six percent demonstrated lesions indicating a BI-RADS (Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System) category.

The researchers found that 68 patients, or 5.8 percent, had at least one lesion representing either BI-RADS 3 (probably benign), 4 (suspicious abnormality), or 5 (highly suspicious of malignancy). Fifty-seven of lesions were considered potentially histological, 11 proved to be malignant, 46 were found to be benign, and 13 BI-RADS 4 or 5 consensus, or 1.1 percent, were false-positives. They also discovered that 0.2 percent of false-negative findings were noted in the CT reports.

The authors note that BI-RADS 3 to 5 identifications demonstrate “the situation encountered in clinical imaging for primarily non-senologic questions.” In other words, the original purpose of the scans was not to evaluate possible breast disorders. In terms of the false-positive findings, the authors write “[these] reflect the different diagnostic approaches of image-based senological screening and radiological examinations indicated in order to solve clinical problems not primarily concerning the breast region.”

The authors encourage physicians to make additional efforts in their CT scan readings. “Statements regarding the prevalence of clinically occult breast cancers can only be made with caution in the presented, highly selective group of patients due to the often incomplete visualization of breast tissue and the retrospective approach,” they write.

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