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How is MRI used after breast cancer is diagnosed?

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), used to evaluate breast tissue, is performed with a dedicated breast imaging coil. The examination requires an intravenous injection of the contrast agent gadolinium but is otherwise painless. The patient lies in the prone position while the images are taken; the examination can usually be completed in approximately 45 minutes.

Over the last ten years, MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, has increasingly been used for evaluation of breast tissue once a woman has a biopsy-proven breast cancer and can help evaluate the extent of disease in that breast as well as check the other breast for disease. It can help answer questions such as, “Are there other areas of abnormal tissue near the biopsy-proven cancer? Are there areas of abnormal tissue in other quadrants of the breast? Is there a cancer in the other breast?"

Nevertheless, even MRI has its limitations. There is a high false positive rate, which can lead to unnecessary biopsies and patient anxiety, and multiple follow-up exams.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.