Background: The influence of patient age on multidisciplinary treatment planning after preoperative breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its influence on the surgical decision-making process are unclear. Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 710 women with breast cancer who underwent preoperative MRI at our institution between January 2003 and December 2008. Analysis by patient age included the number of additional ipsilateral MRI findings, the number of biopsies recommended/performed, the number of additional cancers found, and the percentage of patients undergoing mastectomy. Results: Of the 710 patients, 343 (48%) had additional ipsilateral MRI findings. After stratifying by age, the incidence of additional ipsilateral findings differed between decades (P = 0.004). However, fewer biopsies were recommended in older patients (P = 0.043). The number of women pursuing preoperative needle biopsy increased with age (P = 0.0018), while the incidence of a second focus of breast cancer did not change with age (P = 0.07). The mastectomy rate decreased from 65% in women younger than 50 to 40% in women older than 70 (P < 0.001). Conclusions: In the setting of newly diagnosed breast cancer, the value of MRI is not influenced by patient age, with at least 40% of women in all age groups having additional findings on MRI. Insisting on preoperative needle biopsy of additional findings may decrease mastectomy rates. Further study is needed to determine the reasons for the increased percentage of mastectomies in younger women.
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