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Breast MRI has been approved by the FDA since 1991 for use as a supplemental tool to help diagnose breast cancer. It is often used to investigate breast concerns first detected with mammography, physical exam or other imaging exams. It is also excellent at imaging the augmented breast where abnormalities or signs of breast cancer can sometimes be obscured by the implant on a mammogram. Breast MR is also useful in staging brest cancer, determining the most appropriate treatment and for patient follow up after breast cancer treatment.
In addition to its role as a diagnostic tool, researchers are investigating whether breast MRI may be useful in screening younger women at high risk of breast cancer. Most women under 40 do not require any breast imaging, but might be at a higher risk for cancer due to family histories or a mutated breast cancer gene. Breast MR is effective in dense breast tissue usually found in younger women.