Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields to create an image of the breast.
Breast MRI is more invasive than mammography because a contrast agent is given through an IV before the procedure.
At this time, breast MRI is mostly used in breast cancer diagnosis and staging. It's also used in breast cancer screening for women at higher risk.
Learn more about breast MRI and the diagnosis of breast cancer.
Compared to mammography alone, mammography plus breast MRI can increase detection of breast cancer in [54-56]:
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends yearly screening with mammography plus breast MRI for some women at higher risk of breast cancer, including women with :
Both the NCCN and the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend women at higher risk of breast cancer begin screening at an earlier age than women at average risk [8,12]. Figure 3.5 and Figure 3.6 outline their guidelines.
Talk with your health care provider about breast cancer screening. Together, you can make a screening plan that's right for you.
The NCCN recommends yearly breast MRI (and yearly mammography) for women with a history of breast cancer who have :
Mammography plus breast MRI is under study for screening for other women with a history of breast cancer.
Some studies suggest for women diagnosed with cancer in one breast, mammography plus breast MRI can find breast cancer in the opposite (contralateral) breast better than mammography alone [64-66]. One study found mammography plus breast MRI may also help find new cancers in the treated breast (in women who had lumpectomy) .
However, MRI is not recommended for these women at this time.
Mammography plus breast MRI is under study for screening in women with dense breast tissue [68-71].
When added to mammography, breast MRI may find a few more breast cancers than mammography alone . However, adding breast MRI increases false positive results and it's unclear whether it improves breast cancer outcomes .
Both the NCCN and the ACS feel there's not enough evidence to make a recommendation for or against MRI screening for women who have dense breasts [8,12].
Learn more about breast density on a mammogram.
For premenopausal women, the best timing for breast MRI is day 7-15 of the menstrual cycle .
There is no recommended timing for breast MRI for women after menopause.
Insurance coverage of breast MRI varies.
You may wish to talk with your insurance provider before getting breast MRI screening to see if it's covered.
Screening with mammography plus breast MRI is not recommended for women at average risk of breast cancer.
Screening with breast MRI has some drawbacks.
Researchers are studying whether screening with breast MRI can benefit women at average risk.
Learn more about false positive results.
Facts for Life: Breast Cancer Screening & Follow-up Tests
Research Fast Facts: Early Detection