Why it's doneBy Mayo Clinic staff
Breast MRI is most often used to screen for breast cancer in women thought to have a very high risk of the disease. Breast MRI may be used to diagnose breast diseases and conditions. Your doctor may recommend a breast MRI if:
- You've been diagnosed with breast cancer and your doctor wants to determine the extent of the cancer
- Your doctor finds a suspicious area on your mammogram
- You or your doctor can feel a mass or other lump in your breast, but it's not detectable on mammogram or ultrasound
- You have a suspected leak or rupture of a breast implant
- You're at high risk of breast cancer, defined as a lifetime risk of 20 to 25 percent or greater, as calculated by risk tools that take your family history and other factors into consideration
- You have a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
- You have very dense breast tissue and your prior breast cancer wasn't detected on mammogram
- You have a history of precancerous breast changes — such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ — a strong family history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue
If you're unsure whether you're considered high risk, ask your doctor to help you determine your personal risk estimate. A referral to a breast clinic or breast health specialist may help you better understand your risk and your screening options.
Breast MRI is intended to be used in addition to a mammogram or another breast-imaging test — not as a replacement for a mammogram. Although it's a very sensitive test, breast MRI can still miss some breast cancers that a mammogram will detect.
- MRI of the breast. Radiology Info. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breastmr. Accessed May 27, 2011.
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- Saslow D, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines for breast screening with MRI as an adjunct to mammography. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2007;57:75.
- Yau EJ, et al. The utility of breast MRI as a problem-solving tool. The Breast Journal. 2011;17:273.
- Pruthi S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 2, 2011.