Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 38, Issue 7, July 2009

The role of breast MRI in clinical practice

Nehmat Houssami Meagan Brennan Andrew J Spillane
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The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for breast screening is increasing. Women may approach their general practitioner for advice on its role in breast screening and diagnosis.
This article provides an evidence based update on the role of breast MRI.
There is good evidence to support the use of MRI for cancer screening in younger women at high genetic risk of breast cancer. Its use for assessing the extent of disease in the breast after breast cancer is diagnosed (local staging) is controversial. Certainly MRI is more sensitive than conventional imaging for detecting multifocal/ multicentric disease, however, there is evidence that some women have more extensive surgery as a result of MRI without clear evidence of benefit. There is no role for MRI as a substitute for mammography or for screening women at average risk of breast cancer. It also has no routine role as a diagnostic test in women with symptoms.

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