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Cancer

Breast MRI and Mammography

Some women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than others because of family history of the disease. Women with a family history of breast cancer are advised to take extra precautions and preventive measures. While physicians suggest that all women start screening for breast cancer via mammograms every year from the age of 40 onwards, women who are more at risk due to genetic predisposition are advised to start screening from 35 years of age onwards or even increase the frequency of screening from once a year to once every six months.

Some women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than others because of family history of the disease. Women with a family history of breast cancer are advised to take extra precautions and preventive measures. While physicians suggest that all women start screening for breast cancer via mammograms every year from the age of 40 onwards, women who are more at risk due to genetic predisposition are advised to start screening from 35 years of age onwards or even increase the frequency of screening from once a year to once every six months.

Researchers have found that if a breast MRI is used along with the mammography, the effectiveness of detecting tumors at an early stage is increased manifold. This means that any abnormalities in breast tissue can be picked up by these tests with much more reliability than just any one of them. It gives a fresh lease of hope for women who are even considering getting preventative mastectomy so that they don’t develop breast cancer.

Using MRI is in fact almost twice as accurate as mammograms when it comes to detecting breast cancer. But when the two tests are combined, i.e. mammography as well as the MRI, the accuracy of the test results is greatly increased. The effectiveness is almost 94% when the two tests are combined, in terms of detecting the tumors or other abnormalities.

Breast cancer and ovarian cancer also seem to be linked. Women who have either breast cancer or ovarian cancer, or both, in their families need to be especially wary. Women in such high risk categories must get regular mammograms, and even if they do, there is always the possibility that something may be missed. But by combining breast MRI and mammography, researchers say, the presence of abnormal cancer cells can be detected with great accuracy.

What is most commonly seen is that women who are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer may not always be getting their screening tests done as frequently as desired. This could either be because of lack of awareness or because the doctors are not referring them for appropriate tests. Breast cancer is a terrible disease to develop, it is in the best interests of each and every woman to proactively discuss with her physician on the degree of risk that she carries in developing the disease, by doing basic research on the family tree to identify any breast cancer occurrences in the family and sharing this information with the physician.

If the tests can be done on time and with the right frequency, the disease can be detected in very early stages and can be completely cured without having to undergo the trauma of extensive mastectomy.