MRI Improvements and Greater Potential for Breast Health

MRI Improvements and Greater Potential for Breast Health

We can’t jump the gun and get giddy about this, but some good news in the field of breast imaging has recently arisen.


A new study, reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Breast Cancer Symposium 2013, is the first baby step toward something that could be pretty amazing. Let’s start from the beginning:


We all know that the primary tool for screening for breast cancer is mammography. It has done some great things for the health of women, especially as technology progresses, as with the advent of digital mammography.


A follow-up form of imaging that may also be done is breast MRI. These procedures take longer (more like 20 minutes as opposed to 10 seconds per image in mammography). Breast MRI is very good at finding the fast-growing cancers as well, so it, too, is a great tool in our health kit.


One of the issues with breast MRI is that in part because of it the time it takes both to gather and then read the images makes it a more costly exam.


The new study, which is only the first step in a long line of scientific procedures and verification, suggests that a new protocol for breast MRI can reduce the length of time imaging takes down to just a few minutes. The best part is, this speed is at no notable cost to accuracy (98.9% on target).


This could open the door for more affordable care, more patient comfort, and earlier detection of some of the more aggressive forms of breast cancer.


Cautiously optimistic, we await further studies and results that may someday soon have a positive impact. In the meantime, let’s cheer on the researchers who are doing the hard work to get us there!




Image credit: four seconds by nixArt (via Flickr), Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Originally published 9/18/13 on