Who Should Have a Breast MRI?

Breast MRI screening finds more tiny cancers than other breast cancer screening tools.

The Breast Center recommends annual mammograms for all women starting at age 40. However, there are some women who should consider breast MRI screening.

Dr. Steven Harms, a renowned expert on Breast MRI at The Breast Center, a MANA Clinic, discusses dedicated Breast MRI Screening in the video below.

Who should have a breast MRI screening?

While a breast MRI is helpful in giving doctors a better understanding of the extent of a newly diagnosed cancer, MRI is frequently used in screening patients who are at high risk for developing breast cancer. “It’s about ten times more capable of detecting cancer than our other imaging methods,” Dr. Harms explains.

Breast MRI is not a recommended screening method for all women. It’s more expensive than other methods, Dr. Harms says, so it needs to be used judiciously.

The Breast Center of Northwest Arkansas recommends that all women who are at high risk for the development of breast cancer have screening MRI every year in addition to annual mammography, in accordance with recommendations from The American Cancer Society.

Breast MRI is very sensitive in detecting breast cancer and is used in addition to annual mammography to find breast cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable.

Women at a high risk for breast cancer

How do you know if you’re at a high risk for breast cancer? High risk means a lifetime risk of breast cancer over 20%. Here are the characteristics the American Cancer Society considers high risk:

  • Women who have had a prior breast cancer. 
  • Someone who has had a biopsy and had abnormal cells that were not malignant but are cells that are predisposed to developing breast cancer. 
  • Women who have a close relative with breast or ovarian cancer may be at high risk and should consider a risk assessment appointment to learn more. 
  • Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation are at a high risk. This also includes women who have a first-degree relative with the gene mutation, but have not personally had genetic testing done.
  • If a woman has had chest radiation therapy between the ages of 10 and 30, she is at a high risk.
  • Having Li-Fraumeni, Cowden, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndromes puts women at a high risk for breast cancer. This includes women who have a first-degree relative with any of these syndromes.

“When we read an MRI,” Dr. Harms says, “we’re evaluating all the other imaging methods and coordinating everything.”

If you think you may fall into the high risk category, or if you have questions regarding breast MRI, talk to your doctor or schedule a risk assessment. A risk assessment will help you determine whether breast MRI is right for you. The Breast Center offers the only dedicated breast MRI in a breast center in Arkansas

For questions about Breast MRI screening or to schedule a risk assessment to learn more about your screening recommendations, call 479-442-6266.