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How does an MRI of the breast help find breast cancer?

During diagnostic exams, it helps to get a lot of different images and points of view. If your first tests don't show anything, your doctor may suggest a breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to find out how big the lump is and where it is in your breast. An MRI can also find out if there are any other problems in the breast.

During a breast MRI, magnetic energy and radio waves (not radiation) are sent through the breast tissue by a magnet connected to a computer. It takes detailed pictures of different parts of the breast by scanning the breast tissue. These pictures help the doctors tell the difference between healthy and sick tissue.

Dense Breast Tissue

Standard care says that women with very dense breast tissue and a family history of breast cancer should get a mammogram and a breast MRI every year, switching between the two every six months. (First a mammogram, then an MRI of the breast six months later, then another mammogram, etc.)

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