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Physician Resource

UVA Now Offering Fast Breast MRI for Women with Dense Breasts

Fast breast MRI is a breast cancer screening tool that uses magnetic resonance imaging with contrast. As the name suggests, this test is different from traditional breast MRI because it’s done more quickly, with reduced image acquisition and interpretation time, which cuts down on cost and complexity. Each test takes around 10 minutes.

“This test is highly sensitive and effective,” says radiologist Carrie Rochman, MD. "In a recent study published in JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association], the addition of fast breast MRI to traditional 3D mammogram resulted in the discovery of about twice as many breast cancers.” 

Which Patients Are Eligible for Fast Breast MRI?

Fast breast MRI is meant for women who are average risk for breast cancer and have dense breast tissue. “Dense breast tissue has nothing to do with how the tissue feels,” says Rochman. “Dense breasts have more fibroglandular tissue compared to fat, which can be seen on a mammogram. Dense tissue is normal and common, but it does increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer and it makes cancer harder to detect on a mammogram. This is why these women may benefit from something beyond a mammogram.”

It’s important to note that fast breast MRI is not for women who:

  • Are symptomatic 
    (These women need diagnostic imaging)
  • Have a high risk for breast cancer 
    (A full breast MRI is recommended)

If a patient has had a mammogram, she should be aware of her breast density. This information is noted on every mammogram report, along with a breast cancer risk assessment score. 

Talking to Women About their Breast Health

Although recommendations vary in terms of when or at what age a woman should begin breast cancer screening, what is clear is that discussions about a woman’s breast health should begin no later than age 40 if she’s at average risk for breast cancer. Here are some key points to discuss:

  • Family history
    Women with a family history of breast cancer, on either their mother’s or father’s side of the family, may be at increased risk for breast cancer themselves. 
  • Screening
    Discuss current recommendations for breast cancer screening and testing options available.
  • Breast density
    Review a patient’s previous mammogram reports to determine whether she has dense breast tissue. If she does, explain the increased risk and alternative screening options available to her. If she has not had a mammogram, explain what information the mammogram report will provide, including breast density and how we use this to assess risk for breast cancer.

Watch this video featuring Dr. Rochman to learn more about which patients are the best candidates for fast breast MRI at UVA.

View Fast Breast MRI transcript.

To refer a patient for fast breast MRI, call UVA Physician Direct at 800.552.3723. 

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