Fast Breast MRI

If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, fast breast MRI screening at Rush can detect cancer at its earliest stage, when it’s most curable.

If you’re at high risk for breast cancer, fast breast MRI screening at Rush can detect cancer at its earliest stage, when it’s most curable.

Breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans are the best tool for the early detection of very small cancers in women who have a high lifetime risk of breast cancer. Fast breast MRI is an enhanced protocol that takes less than 10 minutes of scan time, compared to 30 minutes for a traditional MRI. 

At Rush, your scan will be interpreted by a highly trained breast imaging radiologist who is part of the comprehensive breast cancer team, which provides the most advanced, compassionate care to our patients.

Who Should Get Fast Breast MRI?

When you come to Rush for a mammogram, you’ll receive a tailored breast cancer risk assessment that uses sophisticated modeling software to calculate your lifetime risk for breast cancer, based on factors such as your age, family history, genetics and any previous biopsies. 

If your lifetime risk is 20% or more, you’ll be connected with a breast center nurse navigator who’ll guide you through the recommended next steps, which might include further screening with fast breast MRI.

How Is Fast Breast MRI Different from Mammography?

Mammography is still the gold standard for detecting small, early-stage breast cancers. However, not all breast cancers can be seen or detected by mammography — an issue especially for women who are at high risk or have dense breasts. 

All breasts are made up of fat and breast tissue. Dense breasts have less fatty tissue, which is dark on a mammogram, and more dense breast tissue, which is white. Cancer also looks white, so small cancers can easily hide in dense tissue: Up to one-third of all breast cancers in dense breasts aren’t visible on standard mammograms.

Unlike mammography, fast breast MRI uses no radiation and doesn’t compress your breasts. It uses a magnetic field, radio waves and contrast dye to create highly detailed, 3D images of your breasts that show abnormalities more clearly, even if you have dense breasts. 

What to Expect With Fast Breast MRI

Before your fast breast MRI, an IV line will be placed in your hand or arm. You’ll lie on an exam table with your breasts positioned in openings on the table. The table slides into the large, circular opening of the scanner. The MRI technologist will control the scanner from an adjacent room, with a window through which they can see you at all times, and they’ll communicate with you throughout the procedure via speakers and a microphone in the scanner.

You’ll hear a loud hum and clicking noises as the scanner works, but the procedure is painless. Contrast dye will be injected through your IV during the exam. Your total scan time will be just 10 minutes.

Afterward, a breast imaging specialist will review the fast breast MRI images and follow up with you about the results.

Rush Excellence in Fast Breast MRI

  • A personalized screening plan: Your breast cancer risk assessment at Rush includes an ongoing plan for annual or semi-annual screening and follow-up. If your assessment shows that you have a high risk for breast cancer, you’ll be connected with a nurse navigator who will explain your plan and walk you through every step, which may include a mammogram and fast breast MRI each year. You’ll also be referred to our high-risk clinic for ongoing management and care by specialty providers.
  • A highly experienced team: The Rush diagnostic radiologist who reads your mammogram and fast breast MRI specializes solely in breast imaging. Our team is one of the most experienced in the Chicago area, detecting 85% to 90% of breast cancers at early stages when they are most treatable.
  • Center of excellence: Rush breast imaging centers are designated as Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence by the American College of Radiology.
  • Convenient screening locations: Rush locations in Chicago and the western suburbs offer fast breast MRI, so you can choose the one nearest you.
  • Collaborative care: Our breast imaging team is part of the breast cancer team at Rush, and works closely with medical oncologists, breast surgeons, advanced practice providers and others to create your personalized care plan if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. Your peace of mind is always a top priority for our team.

Breast MRI is the most sensitive screening exam for identifying breast cancer, especially in high-risk women and women with dense breast tissue. Early detection is critical in giving women the best chance for cure.

Gene Solmos, MD, Section Director of Breast MRI at Rush University Medical Center