Abbreviated Breast MRI: Detecting Hard-to-See Cancers


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – In the past 30 years, the death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 43 percent. Mammography has long been the standard screening tool, followed by digital mammography, and 3D mammography. But mammograms may not always be the most effective tool for women with dense breast tissue. Now, an affordable abbreviated breast MRI may be the answer to catching cancer in these women earlier than ever before.

Tessa Gauzy’s story is an all too common one. She had no family history of breast cancer, yet she was diagnosed with stage one B invasive ductal carcinoma.

But less than 10 percent of breast cancers are hereditary. That’s why a yearly mammogram is vital to catch cancers before it’s too late.

“Our goal is to detect cancers when they are small, at their earliest, most treatable stage,” Intermountain Health radiologist, Brett Parkinson, MD emphasizes.

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But the denser a woman’s breast, the harder it is to detect tumors early.

Dr. Parkinson explains, “Mammography picks up about four cancers per 1,000 women. MRI, on the other hand, can pick up anywhere from 12 to 16 early breast cancers.”

But a full breast MRI is expensive and time consuming, and currently used now for only the most at-risk patients.

“This is why abbreviated MRI will revolutionize what we do,” Dr. Parkinson adds.

Abbreviated breast MRI uses the same MRI machines, but the difference is, the time inside the MRI is just 10 minutes, it costs less, there are fewer sequences so, less time is spent reading the reports, it’s just as sensitive as full breast MRI’s, and it can pick up hard-to-see tumors that mammograms miss.

In dense tissue, mammography sensitivity goes down to less than 50 percent. Abbreviated MRI allows doctors to see the extent of the cancer and its margins.

“I think that we’re seeing the future unfold right before our eyes,” Dr. Parkinson exclaims.

The average risk of a woman in the U.S. to develop breast cancer is one in eight. Dr. Parkinson says mammography is still the best and most efficient way to find early-stage tumors and women should get one every single year. Women whose breast cancer is caught at an early stage have a 93 percent or higher survival rate in the first five years.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the breast tissue. It is the second most common cancer among women, after skin cancer. There will be about 350,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in women in 2023 and 43,000 women will die for the disease. The death rate however has decreased by 43 percent since 1989. The exact cause of breast cancer is not fully understood, but there are several risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing the disease. These include age, family history of breast cancer, genetic mutations, early onset of menstruation or late onset of menopause, obesity, and alcohol consumption.


DIAGNOSING: Diagnosis of breast cancer usually involves imaging tests such as mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs, as well as biopsies to examine the breast tissue. Treatment options depend on the stage and location of the cancer, but may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of these approaches. Early detection and treatment of breast cancer are important for improving outcomes and survival rates. Regular mammograms and breast self-exams can help with early detection, and women with a family history of breast cancer or certain genetic mutations may be advised to undergo regular screening tests starting at an earlier age.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Abbreviated breast MRIs are a type of MRI that is used to screen for breast cancer. Unlike a traditional breast MRI, which can take up to an hour to complete, AB-MRIs can be completed in approximately 10 minutes, making them a faster and more convenient option for patients. Abbreviated breast MRIs use specialized imaging techniques that allow for faster scans without compromising image quality. This is achieved by using a combination of compressed sensing and parallel imaging, which enable the MRI to capture images more quickly by using fewer data points. This makes the process more efficient and reduces the time required for the scan. The benefits of Abbreviated breast MRIs include faster scan times, improved patient comfort, and increased accessibility for patients who may have difficulty tolerating longer imaging sessions.



Erin Goff

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Brett Parkinson, Radiologist

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