• Important information during Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Dr. Justin Polga on MRIs

  • Did you know that for women at high risk for breast cancer (typically because of a strong family history or carry a hereditary breast cancer gene mutation), an MRI may be an appropriate tool to screen for breast cancer and other abnormalities in the breast?

    A breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test is an imaging test that does not use radiation. It uses magnetic fields to capture multiple images of the breast tissue.

    These images are combined to create detailed pictures of the inside of your breasts. Breast MRI is not recommended for routine screening for most women. However, it is recommended for women who have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

    Breast MRI is not a replacement for mammography – read more at www.cancer.net/node/24584 - instead, it should be used as a complementary screening tool.

    For women at high risk for breast cancer, the American Cancer Society guidelines (available at www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/breastcancerearlydetection/breast-cancer-early-detection-acs-recs) recommend having a breast MRI and mammogram every year.

    You may receive a breast MRI in a hospital or in an outpatient clinic. A radiology technologist will perform the test, which is interpreted by a radiologist. Not all hospitals and imaging centers have dedicated breast MRI equipment.

    If you are having a screening MRI, it’s important to have it at a facility with dedicated equipment, and that can do an MRI-guided breast biopsy or partners with a facility that can (for more information, visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-biopsy.html).

    Check with your insurance company before getting an MRI. Breast MRI costs a lot, and it may need to be approved by your insurance company before the scan is done. Most private insurance plans that pay for mammogram screening also pay for MRI as a screening test if a woman can be shown to be at high risk. It might also help to see a health care provider with experience getting approvals for breast MRIs.

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