Screening Breast MRI- About the Exam

Mountain Medical offers screening breast MRI as a noninvasive imaging technique to screen for breast cancer in selected patients.

Screening breast MRI is used in conjunction with screening mammography in a select group of women who are known to be at significantly increased risk of breast cancer compared to the general population. Because of the expense of screening breast MRI and the false positive rate of the exam, it is not an appropriate screening tool for women who are not at significantly increased risk for breast cancer i.e. most women.

American Cancer Society Recommendations for breast MRI screening as an adjunct to Mammography (in addition to mammography):

Recommend Annual MRI Screening (Based on Evidence)

  • BRCA mutation
  • First-degree relative of BRCA carrier, but untested
  • Lifetime risk 20–25% or greater, as defined by BRCAPRO or other models that are largely dependent on family history

Recommend Annual MRI Screening (Based on Expert Consensus Opinion)

  • Radiation to chest between age 10 and 30 years
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome and first-degree relatives
  • Cowden and Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndromes and first-degree relatives

Insufficient Evidence to Recommend for or Against MRI Screening

  • Lifetime risk 15–20%, as defined by BRCAPRO or other models that are largely dependent on family history
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
  • Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH)
  • Heterogeneously or extremely dense breast on mammography
  • Women with a personal history of breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Recommend Against MRI Screening (Based on Expert Consensus Opinion)

  • Women at <15% lifetime risk – this is most of the female population. Breast

While not a replacement screening mammography or screening breast ultrasound, screening breast MRI can be extremely beneficial for women who are at high risk of breast cancer.

MRI produces detailed images of soft tissues and structures inside the breasts. Recent research has found that MRI can locate some small breast lesions sometimes missed by other breast imaging. Breast MRI is also used to detect breast cancer recurrence or residual tumors after lumpectomy.

What you can expect during a screening breast MRI:

  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach on the movable examination table with both breasts hanging freely into a cushioned recess containing the signal receiver.
  • If a contrast material is used, your technologist will insert an IV into a vein in the hand or arm.
  • The examination table will move slowly into the opening of the MRI.
  • The technologist will leave the room while the MRI is being performed.
  • If a contrast material is used, it will be injected into the IV after an initial series of exams.
  • An additional series of images may be taken following the injection.
  • You will be asked to lie still for up to 15 minutes at a time while images are taken.
  • A breast MRI is usually completed within 45 to 60 minutes.

Learn how to prepare for screening breast MRI.

Learn the benefits and risks of screening breast MRI.

Watch the MRI - What to Expect Video.