Preparing for your Exam
More than 275,000 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the United States this year, and over 40,000 will die from the disease. That’s why Stamford Health continues to recommend that women at a high-risk for breast cancer get screened every year.
Our radiology department plays a key role in supporting Stamford Hospital’s Women’s Breast Center by offering 3D mammography as well as screening mammography seven days per week. Our department was the first in the nation to receive accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, and we’ve also received American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence certification.
For a Breast MRI, normal daily routine is fine. Please do not wear any jewelry.
For a mammogram, do not wear deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your exam as they can appear as calcium spots on your mammogram. Please be sure to describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam. If you have had previous mammograms at another location, please be sure to bring your past images with you so that the radiologist can compare them successfully. We’re also happy to obtain any past images for you.
Please complete the Release Form and fax to 203.276.4047 or mail to the address indicated on the form at least two weeks prior to your scheduled mammogram.
What is Breast MRI?
Compared to mammography and ultrasound, Breast MRI is a completely different way of looking at the breast. It is an advanced tool using MRI technology, sophisticated computers, and 3-D techniques that look deeply into the breast to discover abnormalities that might not be visible in other exams.
Who should get an annual screening Breast MRI?
- Women who have a BRCA gene mutation or have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) with a BRCA mutation
- Women who received radiation treatment to the chest between the ages 10 and 30
- Women who have a rare medical condition linked to breast cancer, Li-Fraumeni, Cowdon, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndromes, or have a first-degree relative with one of these syndromes
- Women with a 20-25% or greater lifetime risk of developing breast cancer
- Other reasons for getting a Breast MRI include: current breast cancer diagnosis, prior to breast cancer surgery, and to detect a breast implant leak.
What are the factors that contribute to my lifetime risk?
There are numerous factors that can contribute to a woman's lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. And some factors matter more than others. The best way to determine your own risk is to talk to your doctor. Rick factors include:
- Age: Risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Majority of breast cancer cases occur in women over 50.
- Menstrual Periods: Women who started menstruating at an early age (before age 12) or who went through menopause at a late age (after age 55) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
- Not Having Children (Or Having Them Later in Life): Women who have had no children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk.
- Genetic Risk Factors: The most common inherited mutations are those of the BRCA 1 and 2 genes. Other genes have also been discovered.
- Family History of Breast Cancer: Having one first-degree relative (mother, daughter, sister) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman's risk.
- Personal History of Breast Cancer: A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3-4 fold increased risk of developing a new breast cancer.
- Previous Radiation Therapy to Chest: Women who, as children or young adults, had radiation therapy to the chest area as treatment for another cancer (such as Hodgkins disease) are at significantly increased risk.
- Oral Contraceptive Use: Studies suggest that women taking oral contraceptives have a slightly increased risk.
- Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy: Long-term use (several years or more) of combined postmenopausal hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer
- Alcohol Use: Use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Overweight / Obesity: Being overweight or obese has been found to increase breast cancer risk, especially for women after menopause.
- Physical Inactivity: Evidence is growing that physical activity in the form of exercise reduces breast cancer risk.
How do I know what my risk percentage is?
It’s always important to know your risk. First and foremost, talk to your doctor regularly. You can also take our breast cancer risk assessment.
Do I still need to have a yearly mammogram if I get a Breast MRI?
Absolutely. A Breast MRI should not take the place of your annual mammogram. If you are at high-risk, you should have an annual Breast MRI in addition to your annual mammogram.
What should I expect when getting a Breast MRI?
Prior to the exam, an IV will be inserted into your arm to administer the contrast material. You will lie very still, face down with your breasts resting in a cushioned coil while you are moved in and out of the MRI machine. Halfway through the exam, you will receive a painless injection of contrast and more images will be taken. If you are claustrophobic or anxious about your MRI exam, you may want to contact your physician at least two days prior to your appointment to obtain a prescription for a mild sedative.
After the exam is complete, the radiologist will read and interpret your MRI and your physician will be contacted with the results.
Will my insurance cover the exam?
Most insurances cover this exam
How can I schedule this exam?
A physician referral is required, so it is important that you discuss this exam with your physician. You or your physician can call 203.276.2602.
How long will it take for me to see the results of my exam?
A report will be generated and sent to your physician. To obtain copies of your scan, please complete the Authorization of Release form.
Where can I get this exam?
Both exams can be performed at The Tully Health Center or Darien Imaging Center. A Breast MRI takes about 30-45 minutes and a mammogram should take 15 to 20 minutes.