Roughly 50% of women have dense breasts. And for those women, a mammogram only has 30%-50% accuracy in detecting breast cancer, since tumors and dense breast tissue both show up as white during screenings.
However, new technology may change everything for women with dense breasts.
Called the Abbreviated Breast MRI (AB-MRI), this new test is able to see through your breast tissue, whether dense or not. It takes only ten minutes, and is more accurate than a mammogram for women with dense breast tissue.
Like a traditional breast MRI, the patient will need to remove their jewelry and clothing and put on a robe — but the screening process is much quicker. It doesn’t require painful compression of breast tissue like the traditional mammogram, is low-cost, and does not use radiation.
A study carried out by a research team at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine showed just how effective the AB-MRI is.
There were 195 women in the study. All of them had dense breast tissue; they didn’t have any physical symptoms of breast cancer such as a lump, tenderness, or dimpling prior to the study; and they all had received a negative result from a mammogram within the previous 11 months.
The team revealed their findings at a Radiological Society of North America meeting held in Chicago.
And they were incredible.
The AB-MRI found 5 cases of breast cancer out of the 195 women screened. That extrapolates out to a rate of 25 cancers diagnosed per 1,000 women screened. Comparatively, a traditional mammogram finds about 4 cancers per 1,000, while 3D mammography is a little more successful, finding 5 per 1,000.
The study’s lead author, Susan Weinstein, MD, is an associate professor of Radiology and the director of breast MRI at Penn Medicine and thinks the results are promising. “Based on the literature and our results, women with dense breast tissue who desire supplemental screening, these results suggest that AB-MRI may be a better option than other supplemental screening tests such as whole breast ultrasound,” she stated.
It’s new technology, so most insurance companies probably won’t cover it yet, and your local doctor may not even have the technology yet — but it is out there! Talk to your doctor about its availability in your area.
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.