Breast MRI is a study that uses a magnetic field to generate images of your breast before and after a contrast injection. If MRI is used, it should be in addition to, not instead of, a mammogram. While an MRI is likely to detect most cancers, it may miss some cancers that could be detected with a mammogram.

The American Cancer Society recommends that some women—because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors—be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small: less than 2% of all the women in the US). Patients should talk with their healthcare provider about pertinent history and whether he/she should have additional tests at an earlier age. It should be a shared decision between the patient and healthcare provider based on history, circumstances, and preference.

Are you at an Increased Risk for Breast Cancer?

On the RightActionForWomen website you will learn about basic breast health screenings as well as about screening options for mammograms and Breast MRI for younger women with high risk of acquiring breast cancer. A Breast MRI may be a very important diagnostic tool in your personal breast health journey.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) Guidelines, the following are indicators to perform Breast MRI in addition to yearly Mammography screening.

High Risk

According to ACS Guidelines, the women at high risk—about 20 percent or greater lifetime risk— should get an MRI and a mammogram beginning at age 30.

Women at high risk include those who:

  • Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Have a first-degree relative—mother, father, brother, sister or child—with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation and have not had genetic testing themselves
  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of 20 percent to 25 percent or greater, according to risk-assessment tools based mainly on a family history from both the mother and father’s sides
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years.

Moderate Increased Risk

According to ACS Guidelines women at moderately increased risk—15 percent to 20 percent lifetime risk—should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI to their yearly mammogram.

Women at moderately increased risk include those who:

  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of 15 percent to 20 percent
  • Have extremely dense breasts or unevenly dense breasts when viewed by Mammography

For more information, please consult your healthcare provider.