Roughly 1 in 10 women who have a mammogram require further testing to gain more detailed information. Mammography is the first choice for routine screening because it is highly sensitive to the presence of micro calcifications, which can be an early sign of cancer. But because mammography requires the compression and overlapping of breast tissues, it may not provide all the information needed to fully assess breast health.
Breast MRI is a supplemental exam designed to deliver additional information about breast tissue and abnormal growths, and is particularly useful in helping your radiologist and referring clinician see through dense breast tissue – a condition affecting about 47% of women – which can hinder images created by mammography. It is also a preferred method to check breast implants for leakage and other problems. Breast MRI utilizes strong magnets and radiation-free radio waves to produce contrast-enhanced images of breast structures and blood flow to area in question, which is valuable because cancerous tumors typically promote unusual blood flow compared to benign masses. The details provided by breast MRI can really help RAI separate benign growths from concerning ones. Breast MRI also helps your radiologist monitor questionable abnormalities for changes and in the staging of any treatment that may be needed.
Breast MRI is not for every situation in which a mammogram shows an abnormality. Breast MRI is most often useful in cases where a mass isn’t able to be identified via mammography or ultrasound, and for high risk patients, such as those with first degree relatives who have had breast cancer and those who test positive for BRCA gene mutation. It can also be used to help plan breast cancer surgery. Your clinician will talk to you about your mammogram results and the suitability of breast MRI.
Should you have an abnormal mammogram, take heart. Most abnormalities turn out to be harmless. The important thing is to discover abnormal cells early and determine what they are. RAI’s breast health team subspecializes in breast imaging, and our doctors read all imaging results in-house. RAI maintains ongoing accreditation in MRI from the American College of Radiology for added accuracy and security.
RAI offers breast MRI by referral from your clinician, who will help you determine if breast MRI is right for you.