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Health Capsules
May 2007
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MRI Aids Cancer Detection in Other Breast

When a woman is newly diagnosed with cancer in one breast, there’s up to a 10% chance that doctor exams and mammography will miss a tumor in the other breast.  A large NIH-funded study has now found that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can greatly improve detection of cancer in the second breast.

The study involved nearly 1,000 women who were recently diagnosed with cancer in one breast.  Each patient’s second breast was deemed cancer-free after mammography and clinical breast exams.  Within 3 months of these exams, the women had MRI scans. 

MRI detected 30 cancers in the second breast that had been missed by the other methods.  The study also showed that if an MRI scan did not detect cancer in a woman’s second breast, she had only a slim chance of later developing cancer in that breast.

One important advantage of breast MRI, the researchers explained, is that it can detect most cancers in the second breast at the time of initial cancer diagnosis.  With early detection, both cancers can be treated at the same time.  This increases the odds of successful treatment.

Women who have newly diagnosed breast cancer should talk with their doctors about whether to undergo an MRI of the second breast.  Adding MRI scans to a rigorous clinical exam and mammography could lead to more informed treatment decisions and may give greater peace of mind to women with breast cancer. 




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An X-ray picture of the breast. It can detect breast cancer that is too small to feel.

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  Keep Vision in Your Future

May is Healthy Vision Month.  To mark the occasion, NIH’s National Eye Institute is focusing attention on a group of diseases called glaucoma.  Left untreated, glaucoma can damage the optic nerve and destroy eyesight.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the U.S.  More than 4 million people nationwide have it, but nearly half of them don’t realize it.  That’s because the condition has no early warning signs.  Fortunately, glaucoma can be detected through a comprehensive dilated eye exam.  Early detection can lead to earlier treatment, which can control the disease and prevent future vision loss.

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk than others.  Those at increased risk include African Americans over age 40; everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans; and people with a family history of glaucoma.  If you are at higher risk, you should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1 or 2 years.

During the dilated eye exam, you receive eyedrops that dilate, or widen, the pupil in the center of your eye.  This allows your eye care professional to see inside the eye and detect subtle signs of glaucoma.  The exam can also show if you have additional risk factors.  In some people, certain medicated eyedrops can cut the risk of developing glaucoma by about half.

Protect your eyesight.  Be sure to get regular eye exams, and spread the word about glaucoma to your family and friends.

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Optic Nerve
A bundle of nerve fibers that connects the back of the eye to the brain. A healthy optic nerve is needed for good vision.

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Be the Generation

Can we be the generation that puts an end to AIDS?  An AIDS vaccine may be our best hope.  This national education initiative highlights the importance of HIV vaccine clinical trials.  May 18 is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.  Find out how you can help—by spreading the word or becoming a trial volunteer.

From NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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