Dr. Jennifer Engels, Breast Imaging Specialist at Cooper Clinic discusses the current indications for a breast MRI.
The current indications for breast MRI are to evaluate patients who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer. We like to look at the affected breast to see the extent of the disease and to see if there might be a second area in that same breast, as well as to screen the unaffected breast to see if there is anything going on that we just cannot see on their mammogram or feel on a breast exam. We also use MRI to evaluate silicon implants to see if it can be ruptured. We use MRI to monitor response to chemotherapy. We evaluate to see if there is any possible chest wall invasion of the tumor growing into the chest wall. That is very helpful for the surgeon before they take the patient to surgery to know exactly how much cancer they are dealing with.
It is also helpful to decide if the patient should have a lumpectomy where you only remove a small portion of the breast versus a mastectomy where they remove the whole breast. The MRI helps the surgeon understand ahead of time which surgery would be more appropriate for that patient.