MRI Screening for Women at High Risk

You have heard of getting a mammogram to screen for breast cancer, but should you also get an MRI? The American Cancer Society (ACS) is advising women with a higher risk of developing breast cancer disease to have an MRI along with their yearly mammogram. Done together, these tests improve the chance of detecting breast cancer in high-risk women. As with most cancers, early detection greatly improves treatment outcome.

The American Cancer Society announced this new guideline in a March 2007 article, updating the guidelines published in 2003. According to the ACS Breast Cancer Advisory Group, MRI's are more sensitive than mammograms, which can lead to false positives, leading to some unnecessary biopsies (the next step to rule out cancer). Because of this possibility, the ACS advises that women who are not at a higher risk for breast cancer do not need to include an MRI with their mammograms.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms and manual breast exams conducted by a healthcare provider (doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner) beginning at 40 years old. High-risk women, on the other hand, should begin their yearly mammograms at age 30 and, as the new guideline states, adding an MRI to their testing routine.

Discuss your options with your doctor. Together you can then devise a screening plan that accommodates your risk factors such as family history, age and previous cancers.

References and Other Resources:

American Cancer Society Prevention & Early Detection:"American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer," American Cancer Society

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