High Risk Breast Screening Program at the Lourdes Breast Care Center

Screening Breast MRI

In 2007 the American Cancer Society published recommendations for the use of MRI for screening women at increased risk of breast cancer.  Annual MRI screening, in addition to mammography, is recommended at age 30, for women with a lifetime risk of 20% or greater.  Women with moderate risk (15%-20% lifetime risk) should talk with their healthcare provider about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.  MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk is less than 15%.

MRI of the breast uses magnetic fields to produce very detailed, cross-sectional images. A contrast material (usually gadolinium) that is injected into a vein in the arm during the exam to improve the ability to capture detailed images of breast tissue.  Breast MRI should supplement, but not replace, mammography screening.

American Cancer Society Risk Criteria for Breast MRI Screening as an Adjunct to Mammography

Women at high lifetime risk (~20%-25% or greater) of breast cancer include those who:

  • Known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • First-degree relative (mother, father, sibling, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, but have not personally had genetic testing
  • Lifetime risk of breast cancer of 20% or greater
  • History of radiation therapy to the chest between ages 10 and 30
  • Genetic Syndrome like Li-Fraumeni or Cowden , or have a first-degree relative with one of these syndromes

Women at moderately increased (15%-20% lifetime risk) risk include those who:

  • Lifetime risk of breast cancer of 15% to 20%, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history
  • Personal history of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia
  • Extremely dense breasts or unevenly dense breasts when viewed by mammograms

For more information regarding risk factors for developing breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society’s website:

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