American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Breast MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic fields instead of X rays to show very clear breast images and tumor size.

MRI is not used for every patient but may be needed to check:

  • Patients at high risk for breast cancer or with unclear findings on a mammogram or ultrasound
  • The tumor before surgery
  • The breast before and after chemotherapy
  • Breast implants for issues
  • A known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • A first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation who has not had genetic testing themselves27

Breast MRI

You have to lie still in an enclosed machine for an MRI. This may bother people who are afraid of small spaces. It may be possible to use an open MRI machine. Ask your health care providers if this is an option.

Keeping You Informed

An MRI may help find early invasive hereditary breast cancer. Women who are at high risk for breast cancer, such as those who have a parent, sibling, or child with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, should have an MRI and a mammogram every year. A mammogram may be less sensitive than MRI in finding breast cancer for women with the mutation.28