While mammography remains the gold standard for breast cancer screening, studies have found that women with denser breast tissue may benefit from a supplemental form of breast screening. The Breast Density Law in Connecticut requires women to be notified of their breast density as measured by their screening mammogram, and if a woman is categorized as heterogeneously or extremely dense, she may wish to consider an additional screening test.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the breast has been used for years in evaluating mammogram abnormalities and identifying early breast cancer, especially in high-risk women. This painless, radiation-free procedure uses magnets and a computer to create detailed images of the breast which, just like a digital mammogram, can be studied from different angles. However, until now, breast MRI was deemed too expensive and time consuming to be a viable breast screening tool.
FAST breast MRI
FAST breast MRI is a breakthrough solution now offered at RAH. It is a 15-minute screening test that has been shown to be comparable in quality to longer MRI screening tests. Unlike mammography, which generates anatomical X-ray images, MRI shows vascular function within the breast, or physiology, which can show blood flow to and from a tumor. It is also highly sensitive and therefore effective at detecting smaller and more invasive cancers.
Like all breast screening tests, FAST breast MRI also has limitations. While it rarely misses smaller, invasive cancers it can miss DCIS (cancer within the milk duct), because this type of cancer may not have associated vascularity (blood flow). As with any supplemental screening test, talk with your doctor. If your doctor is not yet aware of FAST breast MRI, let us know and we will provide him or her with information that can assist in making an informed recommendation.
Not all supplemental screening tests are covered by insurance. However, the shorter scan times of FAST breast MRI allow us to offer this test for just $350, which is comparable to the cost of other adjunctive screening tests, such as whole breast ultrasound.
For more information call (860) 969-6400.