Breast MRI is an adjunct screening used with mammography. The American Cancer Society recommends that woman in specific high-risk groups may benefit from breast MRI. Breast MRI candidates include women who:
Have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
Have a family history of Breast Cancer
Had breast cancer or radiation therapy to the chest
Have Li-Fraumeni, Cowden or diffuse gastric cancer syndrome
Have saline or silicone implants
Breast MRI is noninvasive, painless, and does not use any radiation.
What to expect during a Breast MRI
At FirstScan™ we value patient comfort and privacy above all else. If this is your first breast MRI at our facility, here is what you can expect during your exam:
Preparation for a Breast MRI starts at home. We request that you wear a comfortable button down shirt that contains no metal buttons, zippers, or decorative elements. If you are claustrophobic or nervous about your exam, speak to your referring physician about a prescription sedative. If you choose to take a sedative, make sure that you arrange transportation to and from our clinic. We ask that you arrive 20 minutes prior to your exam to fill out any paperwork.
Once you arrive at our facility, you’ll be greeted by our helpful clinical assistant who will instruct you on how to fill out your paperwork. During this time you can ask any questions you may have about the exam.
Once your paperwork is complete, our friendly staff will escort you to a personal dressing room where you can prepare for the exam in privacy. We will ask that you remove any undergarments including bras and undershirts. You will not be able to bring in your wallet, telephone, or any other personal items to the scan. All of your personal items will be locked away in a private locker for safety.
When you are ready for your exam, you will enter the scanning room behind a private curtain. In the room, a contrast agent will be administered intravenously. Contrast agents are used to used to help distinguish tissue types and abnormalities.
Next, the blinds on the MRI window will be closed and a female staff member will help you get into position. You will lie face down comfortably on a padded table. Just like with a mammogram, you will be required to open your button down shirt and place your bare breasts into the MRI coil. The positioning will be completely painless.
Once you are in position, the blinds will be opened so that the MRI technologist can monitor your safety during the scan. Nothing will be exposed while you are scanned as your chest area will be completely covered. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, let your MRI technologist know. The scan will take 45-60 minutes.
After the scan is complete, the blinds will be closed again. Then you will be assisted off of the MRI table by a female staff member. You will be escorted back to your private dressing room where you will be able to get dressed. Once you are done, you will contact your referring physician for the results of your exam.
Breast MRI FAQs
Can I have a breast MRI instead of a mammogram?
Breast MRI is not a replacement for mammography. However, for women with a high risk of breast cancer and/or dense breast tissue, it can be an effective adjunct screening tool. MRI is typically more sensitive than mammography, so it improves breast cancer detection. A recent study showed that in addition to mammography adding adjunctive MRI screening can detected 8% more cancers.
MRI screening is recommended annually along with a yearly mammogram.
Do I need my previous breast images before my MRI scan?
Previous images from mammography or CT can help our radiology team can better diagnose any pathology. Your physician will recommend the appropriate information to provide to our team.
Should I get an MRI if I've already been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Yes. Breast MRI can tell you a number of things post-diagnosis from the efficacy of your medical treatments including chemotherapy or lumpectomy to equipping your physician with more accurate information about the location, size, and growth rate of the tumor. Breast MRI is also highly recommended on an annual basis for monitoring high risk patients and survivors whose cancer is in remission.
Are there any contraindications to breast MRI?
Breast MRI is a highly sensitive diagnostic tool, so it is critical that your MRI scan is performed on the right equipment and your MRI technologist and radiologist are highly trained in acquiring and reading breast MRI images. At FirstScan™, we use the most modern equipment and the latest training to ensure our technologist can acquire the most accurate images. Our radiologists specialize in breast screening and are able to provide your physicians with the most accurate diagnostic readings possible to reduce the chance of contraindications.
How do I know if I am a good candidate for breast MRI adjunct screening?
The best way to know if you are a good candidate for breast MRI adjunct screening is to speak with your physician. Breast MRI is specifically recommended for women with a high risk of breast cancer, BRCA1 or BRCA mutation, and surgical breast implants.
Do I have to get an injection?
Yes. Patients will receive an injection of contrast material called gadolinium. Gadolinium is completely safe and is used to highlight abnormal tissues such as tumors, making them easier to detect during the diagnosis process.