Breast MRI Screening versus Mammography Screening for High Risk, Underserved Women

A new study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference in September 2011, suggests the advantage of using breast MRI screenings among high-risk, underserved women, as opposed to the general- risk mammography screenings. According to this study, the use of breast MRI screening for this demographic significantly decreases diagnostic imaging costs and increases patient follow up compliance.

The results from the study claim that among the underserved, high-risk population, using MRI for breast cancer imaging proved to be more cost effective as MRI screenings found a greater number of breast cancers at an earlier stage than mammographic screenings.

Breast MRI is likely our most sensitive imaging test for detecting breast cancer.  Annual screening breast MRI in conjunction with annual screening mammography is currently recommended for very high risk women.  However, because of its expense, breast MRI may still be out of reach for the underserved population.

Breast MRI, like any other imaging test, still has a risk of false positives.  Dr. Arasu has been working on techniques to aid radiologist interpretations and potentially reduce false positive biopsies. For average risk women, we recommend annual screening mammography starting at age 40.

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For more information on Women’s Imaging services at UCSF, or to schedule an annual screening, please click here to see our website.