Which Scan Is Best For Breast Cancer?

  • Share this:
Which Scan Is Best For Breast Cancer?

Which Scan Is Best For Breast Cancer?

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is the most prominent answer to pops up for the question of which scan is best for breast cancer. However, your doctor may also recommend a 3D mammogram, Breast CT (Computed Tomography), or a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan for your breast cancer diagnosis.


The selection of a particular imaging study concerning breast cancers depends on various factors.

  • Sometimes, a mammogram may bring forth ambiguous results, which in turn, lead to the recommendation of a second MRI scan.
  • Sometimes, a PET scan may not be enough to quantify the calcification volume in breast cancers, and thereby page for another scan, typically MRI.
  • Likewise, if you have metallic implants, such as a cochlear ear implant, pacemaker, cardioverter defibrillator, and so forth, your doctor inevitably has to opt for a CT scan or mammogram.

But medical experts consider MRI the gold-standard diagnostic modality for breast cancer and the most plausible pick for your doctor! It is because an MRI can offer an in-depth picture of the cancerous growth and locate its origin. In fact, an MRI is superior in diagnosing breast cancer at its early stage and thereby helps doctors plan an early treatment.

What Is A Breast MRI? How Is It Performed?

The Imaging test that involves the use of a magnetic field to generate cross-sectional visuals of your breasts on a computer console is what we call a breast MRI. It is a painless, non-invasive process, typically performed in a clinic, hospital, or radiology center on an outpatient basis.

An MRI can reveal the anatomical structures of your breast, specifically the soft tissues. An MRI scanner looks somewhat like a giant donut, semi-circular tube-shaped. The walls of this machine hold powerful magnets that trigger the atomic nuclei in the breast cells to move out of their position. Henceforth, the computer-generated radio waves can send signals to the computer as they move back to place.

During a breast MRI, a radiologist team shall assist. They shall ask you to lie back on a moveable table and push that into the semi-circular tube. The entire scanning process takes around 45 minutes. However, if and when the radiologist requires more images, the procedure may extend to 90 minutes.

You may feel a little anxious because of the minimal space inside the machine. Besides, the scanner makes a crackling sound when scanning. So, your caregiver may ask you to close your eyes and use earplugs inside the scanner.

Why Do Medical Experts Prefer An MRI Over CT Scan, Ultrasound, Or Mammogram To Diagnose Breast Cancer?

Undoubtedly, there lay several reasons why MRI gets chosen as the top pick when discussing what scan is best for breast cancer. Doctors prefer an MRI over a CT scan or mammogram because it is a safer method in the first place. Yes. Unlike a CT or Mammogram, an MRI does not involve any radiation. Therefore, it cannot stimulate cancer growth any further. An MRI does not bring any side effects.

Doctors prefer MRI over other imaging modalities for diagnosing because its accuracy is higher. While an ultrasound or mammogram fails to provide enough information that confirms breast cancer, an MRI rule out overdiagnosis and overtreatment. In fact, an MRI can help avoid unnecessary biopsies.

As per Radiology Today, an MRI can detect breast cancer in 90% of cases. Whereas ultrasound and mammogram combined hold only a 37.5% detection rate. An MRI can pinpoint the size of the cancerous tumor and its precise location. An MRI is even beneficial in determining the cancer stage.

Doctors prefer a breast MRI because it can accurately show the metastasis, i.e., the spread of cancer from its initial site. It can help assess whether multiple malignancies exist in the same breast. Moreover, your doctor may suggest a routine MRI for breast cancer screening if you have a family history of cancer. Such a facet helps in early cancer detection and management!

How Accurate Is An MRI In Diagnosing Breast Cancer: What Do Studies Reveal?

Concerning which scan is best for breast cancer, MRI is not a common choice by doctors out of the blue. It does hold a greater accuracy than any other tests, as put forward by various research studies and surveys.

  • A 2019 study states that a contrast-enhanced MRI for breast cancer screening holds over 80% diagnostic sensitivity and 83 to 98.4% diagnostic specificity.
  • According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, an MRI can accurately predict cancer incidence 66% of the time.
  • As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), an MRI reserves an overall accuracy of 76.9% in diagnosing breast cancers.
  • American Journal of Roentgenology reports that a breast MRI was 94.5% specific in diagnosing breast cancer.
  • Studies also show that an MRI constitutes nearly 92% accuracy in staging breast cancers.
  • Many research notes that an MRI has a 62 to 86% detection rate for breast cancer growth in the lymph nodes.

When Do Doctors Recommend A Breast MRI For Cancer Detection?

Do you experience persistent breast or nipple pain? Do you have skin irritation or dimpling near your breast?

Can you see redness, scariness, or thickness in your breast skin or nipples? Can you feel a new painless lump in your breast or armpit?

Did you witness an abdominal nipple discharge? Does your nipple retract? Does your breast size looks changed from normal?

Is there a swelling near your collarbone? Is the shape of your breast changed? Do you see blood coming out from your nipples?

If yes, your doctor is likely to recommend a breast MRI, as these are the signs of breast cancer. Doctors also recommend an MRI for breast cancer screening when you have a mutated BRCA gene or dense breast tissue. Your doctor may even order an MRI if anyone from your bloodline has had breast cancer.

Bottom Line: 

Thus, if you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, make sure you consult a doctor. Your doctor can screen the exact cause and provide an appropriate treatment!

Although it is most plausible for your doctor to go for an MRI, the high expense and limited accessibility may lead to the recommendation of another test.

Whichever it be, you must follow what your doctor prescribes, as they know which scan is best for breast cancer for your specific case. If your doctor orders a breast MRI scan in Chandigarh, you can feel free to book one from www.mrichandigarh.com.

Here, you can get to book an MRI from the NABL-certified labs at your schedule and avail of an online payment system. On top of that, a minimum of 40% discount comes as a bonus!

0 0 votes
Article Rating

About author
Hi, I am Alka Tiwari, Founder & Patient Care Executive at MRIChandigarh.com. Helping you get the diagnostics scans services like MRI, CT Scan, UltraSound & PET Scan, etc at the best price. At MRIChandigarh's blog, I will be writing to create awareness and to educate you about how and where to get diagnostic scans done in Chandigarh at the best price with best-in-class services.
View all posts (221)
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Opening Hours

  • Monday - Sunday 24 Hours

Get in Touch

MRI Chandigarh - Best MRI Scan Centre in Chandigarh for all MRI, CT Scan and PET Scans. Get most comfortable MRI scan at best price with free pick and drop facility in tricity.

    Alka Tiwari

    Alka Tiwari
    Typically replies within few minutes

    Alka Tiwari
    Hi there 👋

    How can I help you?
    Chat with Us
    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x