Right now a Mammogram is considered one of the best screening tools for breast cancer, but often breast cancer is missed. An MRI is not a replacement for a Mammogram, but it is a tool that may help doctors get an additional look. In some cases, it may save the lives of those most at risk.
Jill Stutin's been getting Mammograms since her early twenties. "Strong family history of breast cancer. My mother, my grandmother, my mother's sister," says Jill. Two years ago her doctor found a lump,but it wasn't cancer. But he recommended Prophylactic Mastectomy because Jill's risk was so high. She wasn't sure about the idea until she had an MRIi. "The bizarre thing was the Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia was in the left breast, I had breast cancer in the right breast. I just had a mammogram and nothing showed," says Jill. If she'd waited another year for her next Mammogram the tumor would have at least doubled in size."It saved my life, it absolutely saved my life," says Jill. "We would have clearly been talking about a much larger tumor and also lymph node involvement may have been a reality for her which it was not when we found the tumor on the MRI," says Dr. Katherine Lee of the Cleveland Clinic.
So, who should get a breast MRI? the cleveland clinic is conducting a study right now to answer that question. "We think it is very applicable to high risk women. Women who are genetic mutation carriers, women who carry these high risk cancer diagnosis, and women who have very strong family history of breast cancer," says Dr. Katherine Lee. Right now most insurance companies don't cover routine MRI unless the cancer has already been detected. The average cost is about $4,000. Dr. Lee hopes the study changes that thinking. "Instead of waiting and watching these women develop breast cancer because they are at high risk. We feel that we should be proactive about it and try to detect cancer as early as possible," says Dr. Katherine Lee.
The Cleveland Clinic is conducting another MRI study. They are looking for high risk women under age 60 to take part in the study