According to new guidelines published by the American Cancer Society, approximately 1.4 million women in the United States have an unusually high risk of developing breast cancer. These women should undergo an annual MRI examination as well as a mammogram. A recent study also suggests that women newly diagnosed with breast cancer should undergo MRI examination. For women with a new diagnosis of cancer in one breast, MRI is much better than mammography for determining whether the other breast carries a cancer. Women at very high risk of breast cancer can be diagnosed much earlier when combining the two technologies rather than using mammography alone.
The American Cancer Society panel suggests that women should get annual breast MRI’s if:
- They carry mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes.
- They have a parent, sibling, or child with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, even if they have yet to be tested themselves.
- Their lifetime risk of breast cancer has been scored at 20%-25% or greater, based on one of several accepted risk-assessment tools that look at family history and other factors.
- They had radiation to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30.
- They have a rare medical condition linked to breast cancer — Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome — or have a parent, sibling, or child with one of these syndromes.
Although other women may benefit from MRI screening for breast cancer, the evidence is insufficient to include them in the screening recommendation. The ACS says “the jury is still out” on whether the benefits of MRI screening outweigh the risks for women with:
- A 15%-20% lifetime risk of breast cancer, based on one of several accepted risk-assessment tools that look at family history and other factors
- Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
- Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH)
- Very dense breasts or unevenly dense breasts
- Previously diagnosed breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
Women should be aware that not all doctors’ offices have the proper MRI equipment. The American Cancer Society warns that women should not get MRI screening at a practice that does not also offer MRI-guided biopsies.
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Rosen Louik & Perry are personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers in the Pittsburgh area. This legal blog is a service of our company to help educate the public about issues related to health, wellness and your legal rights. If you believe that you or a loved one has had their breast cancer misdiagnosed, contact us for a FREE consultation. Read more about our medical malpractice law firm in Pittsburgh here.