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MRI Scan for Breast Cancer: Advancing Detection and Diagnosis

Scott Loeb DO
Medically reviewed by Dr. Loeb
Scott Loeb DO
Medically reviewed by Dr. Loeb

Your health and well-being are critically important. Early detection of diseases like breast cancer can be lifesaving. It is why new screening technologies are constantly advancing medical care.

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is one such innovation now used by doctors to detect breast cancer and other abnormalities. An MRI scan for breast cancer utilizes magnetic fields and radio waves. It is to produce detailed 3D images. Precisely it allows radiologists to analyze breast tissue for signs of cancer. 

For high-risk women, breast MRIs can be an essential screening tool. It is for finding cancer that may be missed by a mammogram alone. Precision biopsies enabled by MRI lead to more accurate diagnosis and staging. MRI breast scans are also helpful in monitoring how breast cancers respond to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other treatments. Differences in tumor size, shape, or enhancement can indicate how well medicines work.

So, MRI technology represents a significant advance in breast cancer detection. You can make the most informed choices about your health by understanding how MRI scans work.

Understanding Breast Cancer and the Need for Accurate Diagnosis

Breast cancer is a complex disease that requires accurate diagnosis. Early detection of it is critical to successful treatment and survival. While mammograms have long been the standard for initial breast cancer screening, MRI scans play an increasingly important role in diagnosis and monitoring.

When it comes to breast MRI, patients ask themselves what to expect. In fact, it can provide a lot of helpful information about your health. Breast MRI imaging is a unique way to study the detailed image of the body inside. This procedure is necessary when your breasts are at risk of developing cancer. Three-dimensional photos provide a more detailed view of breast tissue than traditional mammograms. MRI scans can detect small tumors, even in dense breast tissue. And it helps medics identify the location, size, and features of any potential tumors.

Once diagnosed, MRI also helps oncologists properly stage cancer treatment. By pinpointing the tumor’s precise size, MRI scans guide decisions about treatment. It can be mastectomy surgery, chemotherapy, and so on. During and after treatment, MRI monitoring helps quickly identify cancer for prompt treatment.

Generally, breast MRIs save lives through earlier detection of this disease. By understanding your risk factors, you can make the right choice for your health and peace of mind.

What is an MRI Scan?

A non-invasive medical imaging method is an MRI. It uses a magnetic field and radio waves. They provide accurate pictures of the tissues and organs within your body. It can find any health problems in your breast that seek treatment. The following is how breast MRI imaging functions: 

  • MRI scanners contain large magnets that produce a strong magnetic field. It aligns the protons in water molecules in your body.
  • Radio waves are then directed at your body. They knock the protons out of alignment.
  • When the radio waves turn off, the protons realign and release signals. The scanner measures them. 
  • These signals give information about the density and location of tissues in the body.
  • A computer then processes the signals to create clear, detailed images of the inside of your body.

start of MRI procedure

Advantages and Limitations of MRI Scans for Breast Cancer

Medicine never stands still. Experienced specialists constantly surprise with new methods of assessing people’s health. And MRI is no exception. Due to its ability to explore the body inside, it has many advantages. But like any medical method, it also has its drawbacks. Thus, before going through this procedure, you should familiarize yourself with it:

Advantages

Limitations

Non-invasive procedure

MRI scans are non-invasive. It means they do not need any incisions or invasive procedures. Patients simply lie down and are within the MRI machine. It makes it a comfortable and painless experience compared to other diagnostic methods.

Limited availability of expertise

Interpretation of breast MRI needs special knowledge. However, not all healthcare facilities have radiologists. And there are also few medical professionals who have experience interpreting breast MRIs. This limitation may affect patients’ access to accurate and timely diagnosis. To perform an MRI  breast cancer diagnosis, patients need to find another hospital. It can be even in different regions.

No radiation exposure

Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRI scans do not use radiation. It makes MRI scans for breast cancer a safer option for repeated examinations. It’s exceptionally good for younger patients who may be more sensitive to radiation.

High cost

MRIs tend to cost significantly more than mammograms. Insurance plans do not cover them. So, it requires higher out-of-pocket costs.

Multidimensional imaging

MRI scans provide multidimensional imaging. It allows you to get a comprehensive evaluation of the breast. This imaging technique provides detailed information about many things. It involves the size, location, and characteristics of the tumor. This info helps with accurate staging and treatment planning.

Claustrophobia and discomfort

MRI machines have a narrow and confined space. It can trigger feelings of claustrophobia or discomfort for some individuals. It may cause anxiety or demand sedation to complete the scan.

Monitoring treatment response

This method plays a crucial role in monitoring the response to breast cancer cures. Among them can be chemotherapy or radiation therapy. MRIs can assess tumor size changes. Accordingly, they provide valuable information for adjusting treatment plans.

Need injections

This procedure for breasts needs an injection of contrast dye to enhance the images. Some patients may have adverse reactions to the contrast dye. Or they can experience side effects like nausea.

Breast MRI Procedure and Preparation

When consulting doctors, you should not follow strict rules or instructions. But when you go through specific procedures, the opposite happens. There are several requirements for the patient when undergoing breast MRI imaging. For example, first, you must remove all metal things from yourself. It can be rings, earrings, or pendants. In general, it is all your jewelry.

Usually, during this procedure, the specialist tells you what to do. They state that you need to lie in a calm state. Do not stress the central nervous system, and do not get nervous. If the sound of the MRI machine disturbs you, they will give you headphones.

So, there are no difficulties in this. Before starting the breast examination, tell the doctors about your problem. Share with them your tests, organism studies, and medical history. It is important that the doctor knows exactly what they need to focus on. And what are the general steps you need to take for breast MRI preparation? Keep reading:

1. Clothes

On the day of the breast MRI procedure, wear comfortable and light clothes. Don’t wear anything with fasteners or lots of buttons. It may take time to change clothes during the procedure. After all, to lie down in the MRI machine, you will have to change into a hospital gown. Besides, remember to remove metal jewelry. Remove all piercings, if any, and other jewelry. To conduct this study, the use of metal is a prohibited thing.

2. Breast MRI: what to expect

Remember that during the MRI, you must be calm and motionless. Some people are claustrophobic. And for them, MRI is not a very pleasant process. You should know that for an MRI, you should lie down in a sizable tubular structure. It is open from both sides. But despite this, claustrophobes may still be afraid of the lack of space there. Thus, if you are afraid, you should tune in to calmness before the procedure. If you have a hard time doing this, consult a doctor. They can calm you down with special methods or drugs.

3. Food

Many patients ask if there are any restrictions on eating before MRI. Yes, they are. Before the MRI scan for breast cancer, you should refrain from eating and drinking for 2-4 hours before the procedure. The main reason for these prohibitions is to ensure the clarity of images obtained from MRI. Eating before the process can change signals from soft tissues. It can complicate image interpretation and diagnosis. If you have certain questions about the diet before MRI, contact a specialist. They will give you more accurate data about it and guidance.

4. Allergy

Some people are allergic to contrast. If you encounter it during an MRI, it will cause you extra problems. Thus, if you suspect this allergy, inform your doctor about it. They may give you certain medicines for this to ease the allergic reaction. Specialists usually carry out the MRI process for this. It is to give the pills time to work on your body.

MRI procedure

Breast MRI: What to Expect During the Scan

When conducting such a procedure, it is important to know all its nuances. You should understand what you may encounter and what you should be ready for. So the following are things you should expect during an MRI breast cancer diagnosis:

  • You will be positioned facedown on a padded scanning table, with your breasts in cutouts. The table will be inside the MRI machine. The photos are captured using a short tunnel with powerful magnetic coils.
  • The technician will supply you with headphones to listen to music. It is for blocking out the machine’s harsh noises. You can also use noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.
  • Maintaining complete stillness during the scan is critical to avoid fuzzy images. The technician may provide padding and straps to help keep you in the appropriate posture.
  • If you were given a contrast dye, you may experience a chilly sensation. It feels like it circulates through your body. It is very typical and will pass fast. Inform the specialist if you are in any pain.
  • Throughout the scan, the technician will watch you from an adjacent room. They can converse with you anytime by using the scanner’s speaker. Please notify them if you need anything.
  • After the scan, you can get dressed and resume your daily activities. The radiologist will check your photos. Then, they report the findings to your doctor. The medics will discuss it with you at a follow-up consultation.

Conclusion

Medical technologies pleasantly impress with their possibilities. And MRI is one of them. By using breast MRIs, radiologists have the best imaging technologies. They can find breast cancers early when they are most treatable. It ensures faster, easier, and better treatment and recovery.

You can consult with Lone Star Neurologists if you have any questions about this illness. We will understand your body’s details and help you draw conclusions. Based on them, we will assign you the appropriate effective treatment.

FAQ

What is the difference between mammography and breast MRI?

Mammography uses low-dose X-rays to examine the breast tissue. And MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images.

 

Who should consider undergoing a breast MRI scan?

The breast MRI is good to do for:

  • women with a high risk of breast cancer due to genetic mutations;
  • women with dense breast tissue that is difficult to examine via mammogram alone;
  • women with suspected breast cancer to help determine the size and spread;
  • women with breast implants to check for ruptures or leaks and to examine breast tissue.

 

How often should breast MRI be performed for high-risk individuals?

High-risk individuals often undergo annual breast MRI scans. But it is an individual procedure that depends on many factors. It includes family history, genetic mutations, and personal risk factors.

 

How accurate is breast MRI in detecting breast cancer?

Breast MRI has shown excellent accuracy in detecting breast cancer. The sensitivity rates range from 88% to 100%. 

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Lone Star Neurology
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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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