• breast cancer;
  • breast imaging;
  • contralateral breast cancer;
  • locally advanced breast cancer;
  • magnetic resonance imaging

Abstract:  Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may provide a more accurate assessment of synchronous contralateral breast cancer in select cohorts of patients. The utility of this imaging technique for detecting synchronous contralateral breast cancers in patients with locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) has not previously been described. We report our experience in assessing contralateral disease in a cohort of women with LABC who had clinical assessment, mammography, ultrasound, and MRI prior to neo-adjuvant therapy. Patients, who presented with LABC, stage IIB (T3N0), stage III A/B, were identified from a prospectively kept data base at a single tertiary care centre between November 2001 and August 2005. Charts were retrospectively reviewed and demographic, imaging and pathologic variables were abstracted. One hundred and one female patients with LABC were identified (median age 49). One hundred of 101 patients presented with a clinically obvious LABC. Three patients had LABC that was not visualized mammographically but was detected on ultrasound and MRI. Seventeen of 101 patients (17%) had contralateral imaging findings that required biopsy for diagnosis. Of the contralateral biopsies, 41% (7/17) were malignant. These malignant lesions were identified clinically in 4/7 patients, on 7/7 ultrasounds, 7/7 mammograms, and 5/5 MRI. Overall, 7% (7/101) patients had malignant synchronous contralateral disease. In our LABC patient cohort, 7% of patients presented with malignant contralateral disease. The incidence of contralateral disease in women with LABC is comparable with patients who present with early stage breast cancer. No single screening technique, ultrasound, mammogram or MRI, appeared to be superior for identifying contralateral synchronous malignancy.