Should biannual MRIs replace annual mammograms in high-risk women?
The risk of breast cancer is exceptionally high in women who have a personal or family history of breast cancer or who carry a mutation in BRCA or certain other genes. More frequent screening is one strategy for early detection of breast cancer for these women. Study results presented at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium suggest that MRI screening every 6 months may be more effective than the currently recommended annual breast MRI and annual mammogram in detecting early stage breast cancers-which are more treatable-in high-risk women. (2/1/18)
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) establishes guidelines for breast cancer screening and cancer care in the U.S. For women with increased risk (a lifetime risk for breast cancer of 20% or more), the guidelines recommend the following screening:
- Have clinical exams every 6–12 months, starting when you are identified as being at increased risk, but not before age 21
- Obtain a referral to genetic counselor or similarly trained health care provider, if you haven’t already done so.
- Start annual mammography screening 10 years earlier than the age of the youngest family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, but not prior to age 30. Consider getting a 3-D mammogram.
- Begin annual breast MRI 10 years earlier than the age of the youngest family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, but not prior to age 25.
- Consider recommended risk reduction strategies, such as preventive hormonal medications or risk-reducing surgeries that remove the breasts or ovaries.
- Develop breast awareness and report any changes to your health care providers
Questions To Ask Your Health Care Provider
- How often and with what method should I be screened for breast cancer?
- Will my MRI include contrast with a gadolinium-based agent? If so, what health risks are associated with this contrast agent?
- Are there any other health risks associated with getting an MRI every 6 months instead of annually?
- Do I still need an annual mammogram if I have an MRI every 6 months?
- Will my insurance cover more frequent MRI screenings?
Open Clinical Trials
The following breast cancer screening clinical trials are currently enrolling participants:
FORCE is a national nonprofit organization, established in 1999. Our mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by adult hereditary cancers.