MRI scan Out-Performs Mammogram

MRI scans are far better at detecting aggressive breast cancers at an early stage than standard mammograms, research suggests.

However, MRI scans are rarely used in breast clinics, and then usually only as a back-up to conventional scans. The researchers are calling for greater use to be made of MRI in the detection of breast cancer. The earlier an aggressive breast cancer can be detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.

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MRI or magnetic resonance imaging scan is useful at imaging the augmented breast, staging breast cancer, and determining the proper treatment. MRI scan images the breast implant and breast tissue surrounding the implant. Abnormalities or breast cancer signs are sometimes hidden by the implant on mammogram.

With MRI exams, the breast cancer can be detected early and therefore the chances of survival are greatest. As MRI is more sensitive than mammogram, it helps in detecting breast cancer that may be missed by mammogram.

MRI procedure:

Without using radiation, the detailed picture of areas inside the body is created by computer, which is linked to the magnet in MRI scan. Hundreds of images of the breast are produced by each MRI from top to bottom, front to back and side to side.

During MRI scan, the patient is asked to lie on the scanning table on the stomach. The breast hangs into the hollow in the table that contains coils which detect magnetic signal. Moving the table into tube like machine which contains magnet produces series of images.

Benefits with MRI scan:

MRI scan allows the breast images to be taken in any orientation. The main advantage of MRI is, it is highly sensitive to small abnormalities that are missed with other exams. Breast cancer can be revealed by mammogram in one area. Small tumors present in several areas of the breast can be shown by MRI.

The extent of breast cancer can be determined with MRI indicate proper treatment. MRI is also used to determine whether breast cancer is spread in the chest wall.

One important benefit of MRI is it visualizes breast implants. MRI scan shows whether the implant is ruptured or leaking. It also shows whether the breast tissue is compressed by the implant. This is not possible with mammograms because the x-rays cannot penetrate saline or silicone implants well enough to image the underlying or overlying breast tissue.

MRI scan is used effectively in dense breasts, used to evaluate inverted nipples for indication of cancer, determines the type of surgery needed, and can detect recurrence of breast cancer and residual tumors after lumpectomy.

The researchers found that MRI scans were much more effective at spotting the disease. The difference was even more marked for particularly aggressive cases: MRI picked up 98%, while standard mammograms spotted just 52%. MRI was also no more likely to throw up false positive results.

Limitations with MRI:

The difference between cancerous and non-cancerous abnormalities cannot be distinguished by MRI and therefore it can lead to biopsies. The calcifications and tiny calcium deposits cannot be imaged which indicate early breast cancer. MRI takes more time than mammogram and is costly. Patients whoa re claustrophobic cannot tolerate MRI. Due to the high sensitivity of MRI, it can lead to false positive results.