Regular mammograms find breast cancers in most women. But you may need a more advanced scan. A breast MRI reveals more than a typical mammogram.
At UVA, we offer two types of breast MRIs:
- Conventional Breast MRI, for women at high risk for breast cancer
- Fast Breast MRI, for women at average risk with dense breast tissue
Regular mammograms use X-rays. A breast MRI scan uses magnetic waves and IV dye to take 3D pictures of the breast.
Our radiologists have a high level of special training in breast imaging. This makes them experts in recognizing cancer at the earliest stage possible.
Types of Breast MRIs
At UVA, we offer two types of breast MRIs: Conventional and Fast. Both types create clear pictures of any changes in your breast tissue. Both catch cancers missed by regular mammograms. But which MRI you need depends on your risk and your breast tissue.
For Women with a High Breast Cancer Risk: Conventional Breast MRI
A conventional breast MRI screens women at high risk for breast cancer. The procedure takes about 45 minutes. We recommend you get this screening:
- No matter your breast tissue density
- Every year
- In addition to your regular mammogram
These detailed, in-depth scans have high sensitivity for detecting cancer. They can find breast cancer missed by regular mammograms.
For Average-Risk Women with Dense Breast Tissue: Fast Breast MRI
Mammograms are 30-40% less sensitive in women with dense breast tissue. This makes some cancers more difficult to see.
Quick and painless, fast breast MRI takes about 10 minutes. It doesn’t replace regular mammograms. But your doctor may recommend this as an extra screening tool.
Your doctor may recommend this if you have both:
- Dense breast tissue
- An average breast cancer risk
What if the Radiologist Sees Something Abnormal?
The radiologist may recommend additional testing, such conventional breast MRI, 3D mammogram, ultrasound, or biopsy.
Fast Breast MRI at UVA
UVA offers Fast Breast MRI to women with dense breast tissue who are at an average breast cancer risk. Fast Breast MRI is a quick and convenient way to find cancer around the dense breast tissue. View Fast Breast MRI transcript.
For both types of breast MRI, you'll get injected with IV dye. You'll then lie flat in an MRI machine while we take scans.
Inside the MRI machine, you’ll be in a narrow, enclosed tube. The machine makes a loud banging noise. To make you feel more comfortable, we can offer:
- Headphones or earplugs
- Preparation about what to expect
You can also speak to your primary care provider about taking a sedative to help you relax.
Ask Your Provider About Breast MRI
When it comes to breast cancer, you want the screening that best fits your situation. Talk to your provider about whether a breast MRI makes sense for you.