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Preparing for Your MRI
The MRI machine produces a powerful magnetic field, which can interfere with metal objects. Prior to the procedure, you will be asked to remove jewelry, watches, credit cards, hairpins, metal zippers and clothing accessories, removable dental work, pens, pocketknives, and eyeglasses.
The field can also interfere with metal objects in your body. Before the procedure, you should inform the doctor and the technologist of any implanted heart valves, implanted drug infusion ports, catheters, IUDs, joint prostheses, metal pins, screws, plates, staples or any other such device that might contain metal.
Breast MRI uses strong magnetic fields to create views inside the body. The Methodist Breast Center was one of the first in the nation to offer MRI as a diagnostic tool for breast cancer and other abnormalities. Unlike the x-rays used in conventional mammography, MRI scans do not expose the patient to any radiation, and they can offer higher-resolution images than a conventional mammogram.
Breast MRI is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound breast imaging but rather a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities.
Mammography offers excellent diagnostic quality for most patients. In certain cases, however, breast MRI may be recommended:
- When the patient is at high risk for breast cancer
- When certain genetic factors are present
- If breast tissue is very dense
- When there is a strong family history of breast cancer
The Breast MRI Procedure
During a breast MRI, you will be asked to lie face-down on a special table, with your breasts placed in openings in the table. Contrast material will be injected into a vein to increase the amount of contrast in the MRI. The process is painless, and will last for between 30 minutes and one hour.
In an MRI-guided biopsy, an MRI scan of the breast is used to locate suspect tissue within the breast and guide a fine biopsy needle to the site for the collection of tissue samples. An MRI-guided biopsy might be used to collect a tissue sample if the area of concern is very tiny (perhaps too small to be located with a mammogram) or in cases in which the patient's breast tissue is very dense.
As in the breast MRI, the patient lies on her stomach. Once the doctor locates the suspect tissue within the breast, a computer is used to determine the precise placement of the needle. A small incision is made, the needle is placed at the target site and a tiny tissue sample is withdrawn for analysis. Most patients can resume normal activity within 24 hours of the biopsy procedure.
The Methodist Breast Center can help patients evaluate options and ways to have a positive effect on their chances of developing breast cancer. While it's difficult to accurately predict any individual's risk of developing breast cancer, our growing understanding of the ways in which breast cancer develops has helped doctors and scientists define categories of risk factors and protective factors for breast cancer.
It's important to remember that even with everything we know about breast cancer, there are still many unknowns. Every person is different, and what's appropriate for one person may not be for another.
Risk factors and protective factors
(source: National Cancer Institute)
The following risk factors may increase the risk of breast cancer:
- Estrogen (naturally occurring)
- Hormone replacement therapy/hormone therapy
- Exposure to radiation
- Inherited risk (genetic factors)
The following protective factors may decrease the risk of breast cancer:
- Decreased exposure to estrogen
- Medications to reduce estrogen receptivity (for example, Tamoxifen)
- Medications to inhibit estrogen production (Aromatase inhibitors)
- Prophylactic mastectomy (the removal of both breasts when there is no sign of cancer)
- Prophylactic oophorectomy (the removal of both ovaries when there is no sign of cancer)
The following have not been proven to be risk factors for breast cancer, or their effects on breast cancer risk are not known:
- Oral contraceptives
- Active and passive cigarette smoking
- Use of statins (certain cholesterol-lowering drugs)
Take a proactive approach
Talking to your doctor about your risk for breast cancer is an important step to take. The Methodist Breast Center can be an important part of this process, providing information about your specific risk factors and ways you may be able to reduce your risk. These conversations are also a great way to discuss breast cancer detection — and if done early — it's one of the best ways to improve the likelihood of successful treatment.