Current status of breast cancer screening in high-risk women in Japan


Overseas, the importance for breast MRI screening for high-risk groups has been shown. However, the evidence among Japanese population was lacking. Therefore, we collaborated with the “Study on clinical and genetic characterization of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and improvement in prognosis using genetic information in Japan” group, as part of the Comprehensive Research Project on the Promotion of Cancer Control, Health and Labour Sciences Research, and have been conducting the study entitled, “Study of the usefulness of MRI surveillance of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers” since 2014. In addition, we found that in the Japanese population also, the pathological and imaging characteristics differ between BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, like in non-Japanese populations by the several reports. In high-risk females, risk categories such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers are very important. Furthermore, in the future, the optimal surveillance modalities and examination intervals would also vary according to the age, thinness of the breast (constitution), breast density (individual differences on mammography), etc.; this would be “personalized surveillance”, and quality-assured MRI examination is of the essence. This review will present clinical trial data of prospective MRI surveillance in Japan, and summarize the current status of breast cancer screening in high-risk Japanese women.

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We are grateful to Dr. Akihiro Sakurai (Sapporo Medical University), Dr. Masami Arai (Juntendo University, Graduate School of Medicine), Dr. Hideko Yamauchi (St. Luke’s International Hospital) and Dr. Dai Kitagawa (Cancer Institute Hospital) for supporting the prospective clinical study.


This work was supported by Health, Labour and Welfare Sciences Research Grants (H26-policy for cancer-general-012) and (H29-policy for cancer-general-003).

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Correspondence to Mitsuhiro Tozaki.

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This paper is modified from the manuscript “Significance of breast MRI for high-risk groups” (J. Jpn. Assoc. Breast Cancer Screen.) 2020, 29(1) MAR 15, with permission from the original publisher.

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Tozaki, M., Nakamura, S. Current status of breast cancer screening in high-risk women in Japan. Breast Cancer (2020).

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  • Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome
  • BRCA
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Magnetic resonance imaging