Thursday, November 10, 2011

Breast health: When yearly mammograms aren't enough

Most women know that by the time they reach 40, it is time to start getting an annual mammogram. But how would you know if you fall into the high-risk population and are 1 of the women who should get a breast MRI? As medical technology advances, it is ALWAYS good practice to ask questions and discuss new options with your physician. You may not recognize subtle changes in your health. Be pro-active in your health and bring a list of questions with you when you go for your annual exam.

Mammography is still the most widely used screening tool for breast cancer. However, breast MRI is an excellent tool that enable physicians to view tumors that may be difficult to see with mammography, The first breast MRI product received FDA clearance in the early 1990's as an adjunct to mammography. The American Cancer Society recommends that women who are at high risk to augment their annual mammos with an annual breast MRI. Women greater than a 20-25% risk bracket and women with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian CA should augment with a breast MRI.

In addition to those risk patients listed above, women who fall into any of the following categories should check with their physicians about breast MRI:
1. known genetic mutation. BRCA1 and BRCA2
2. those who haven't been tested but whose mother, daughter or sister have a known mutation
3. those who received chest irradiation between the ages of 10 and 30.

To learn more about breast cancer risks and diagnostic tools please visit the National Cancer Institutes website:

Good Health,
Trisha M. Pacenti RN,BSN