Breast MRI

Who Benefits by a Breast MRI?

The Radiology Department at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center offers MR imaging of the breast and MR guided vacuum assisted percutaneous core biopsy for those lesions that are only identified on MR.
Guidelines released by the American Cancer Society in March 2007 recommend screening breast MR for the following women:
  • BRCA mutation carriers or first degree relatives of BRCA mutation carriers
  • women with a 20-25% lifetime risk of breast cancer based on family history
  • women who had radiation treatment to the chest between ages 10 and 30, and
  • women with certain syndromes that predispose to breast cancer.

For these high risk women, screening with MR and mammography should begin at the age of 30 or earlier.

For women diagnosed with breast cancer, MR has a high sensitivity for evaluating the extent of disease in the same breast and for detecting unsuspected cancer in the opposite breast.
MR has also been shown to have higher sensitivity than mammography for cancer detection in the following settings:
  • for assessing response of tumor to chemotherapy
  • for evaluating residual tumor after surgery
  • for evaluating women with axillary lymph node cancer in whom the primary tumor is not identified on mammography and physical exam
  • for detecting recurrent disease when mammography is inconclusive
  • Finally, breast MR is the most sensitive test for evaluation of complications of silicone breast implants.

 Breast MRI enables the radiologist to more accurately detect breast cancer in the above clinical scenarios. However, it is important to emphasize that mammography is still the test of choice for breast cancer screening in the average risk woman, and has been shown in multiple studies to reduce the rate of death from breast cancer in women over the age of 40.

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