Breast MRI is the most sensitive test available for the detection of breast cancer. Currently, many organizations have tried to limit the use of breast MRI in those women at most risk for developing breast cancer. Part of this is an economic decision. As a result, most women do not qualify to get a breast MRI.
However, new research released in November 2012 shows the benefit of breast MRI for all women, regardless of risk status. The study was conducted by German researchers (Dr. Simone Schrading and colleagues). Germany has been at the forefront of the breast MRI program.
The study involved normal-risk women who had a normal clinical breast exam and normal screening mammogram (those women with dense breast tissue also underwent a screening breast ultrasound). Women with normal mammograms/ultrasounds then underwent additional breast cancer screening with breast MRI. The study showed that the breast MRI detected a significant amount of breast cancers that could not be seen on mammograms/ultrasounds.
In essence, screening breast MRI doubled the cancer detection rate when compared to screening mammograms and ultrasounds!
Also, it should be noted that breast MRI does not require any type of breast compression and does not involve any type of radiation like mammograms.
Dr. Thomas Bakondy, MD