MRI Breast studies may be done for Screening for Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Staging or Breast Implant assessment.
Breast MRI is used as a supplemental form of screening. It does not replace your routine mammograms.
Your doctor will discuss your risk factors with you and whether MRI may be beneficial for you.
Breast Cancer Sceening
Several groups of women may benefit from a breast MRI. These include young women with particularly strong family history of breast cancer or young women who are gene carriers for the BRCA 1 or 2 genes.
There are also some women who have particularly dense breasts where Breast MRI may be the most sensitive test to detect breast cancer.
Studies have shown that MRI has a higher sensitivity in detecting breast cancer than other screening methods do. In particular it is most beneficial in those women at a higher risk of breast cancer, either from family or personal history, genetic risks (BRCA 1 and 2 carriers) or past history of atypical cells on a biopsy. There are also some women who have dense breasts where a Mammogram is more difficult to interpret and where the surrounding normal breast tissue hides the cancers.
Breast Cancer Staging
Your breast surgeon may recommend this study after the diagnosis of breast cancer has been made on a Mammogram, Tomosynthesis and Ultrasound, following biopsy.
Not all breast cancers are the same, and they aren’t all treated in the same way, which is why having further testing and getting the most accurate diagnosis is so important. Breast MRI is helpful in determining the size of your breast cancer, how much of the breast is involved and so will assist your surgeon in what type of surgery is best for you and potentially whether you may need additional treatment including radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.
You will lie in the scanner on your front with your arms above your head and your breasts will lay in a special coil, which is not tight like a mammogram. Your breasts need to be in the centre of the magnet and you will go into the magnet head first. The scan is noisy, so you will be given headphones with music and a buzzer to press if you want to talk to the technologist at any time.
It is important that you lie still.
Please advise our staff if you suffer from claustrophobia, as this may affect your ability to keep still and we may be able to arrange a muscle relaxant for you prior to your appointment to assist in coping with the scan.
Breast MRI involves the use of a contrast dye (Gadovist), which is administered through a needle (intravenous cannula) placed in your arm.
Before your Scan
When making your appointment for a Breast MRI, our clerical team will ask you questions about your menstrual cycle.
It is important that this study is done during day 7 – 14 of your menstrual cycle if you have one, as it is more sensitive for the detection of small cancers in the breast.
This menstrual cycle guide is used for Screening studies but not for Staging studies as results are expedited so you may commence your treatment as soon as possible.
If you no longer have a menstrual cycle or require an urgent Breast MRI for Cancer Staging, our clerical team is trained to accommodate your individual appointment needs.
The entire process (preparation and imaging) can take 30 – 45 minutes.
When you arrive for your examination, you will be asked to fill out a MRI safety questionnaire and a clinical history form that is used by our Doctors in assessing your individual case.
Prior to the examination, our specially trained staff will take you through, explain the examination, discuss any concerns and prepare you for your examination. This process can take up to 15 minutes before you get onto the MRI scanner.