Should I Get an MRI or a Mammogram

Should I Get an MRI or a Mammogram?

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Mammograms and Breast MRIs are an important part of safeguarding your health, especially if you’re over 40 or have significant risk factors for breast cancer. While both scans help aid in detecting breast cancer, there are key difference between them. 

Mammograms

During a mammogram, X-ray radiation is used to penetrate breast tissue and record differences in tissue density. Solid tumors will typically have a higher density than normal tissue and show up on an X-ray as a lighter, solidified mass.

Different views of your breast are taken to ensure all aspects have been covered. To obtain the best image, the breast is compressed to allow radiation to penetrate thinner layers of tissue. 

A mammogram is the screening most frequently associated with breast cancer detection and will often be used to confirm or reject other screening’s findings. 

Breast MRIs 

MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) uses magnetic fields, radio waves, and computers to create images of the inside of the body, in this case, the breast. The breast MRI technique is used primarily to check abnormal areas seen on a mammogram or any suspicious areas after breast surgery or radiation therapy. It’s also helpful sometimes for finding abnormalities in younger women who have dense breast tissue. 

On the downside, MRIs are less specific than mammograms. This means MRIs give a higher number of “false positives.” This may cause women to get biopsies and other tests they don’t need. As of 2021, mammograms are still the most highly recommended screening test for detecting breast cancer.

For most women, MRIs are not recommended for breast screenings. However, studies show that MRIs may be useful for women at high risk for breast cancer. For example, if a woman carries the genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, her doctor may recommend an MRI as an additional screening tool, but not a replacement for mammograms.

You and your doctor can determine the best strategy for breast cancer screenings.

Cost 

For an uninsured patient, the typical full-price cost of a mammogram ranges from $80 to $400 or more, with an average of about $102, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Some providers charge more while others may offer an uninsured discount. For example, patients who book their self-pay mammograms at Medmo can find cash-pay discounts for all breast exams. 

If you plan on using health insurance to cover the cost of your mammogram, there are a few policy/state specific rules you should check before scheduling your appointment. Insurance companies reserve the right to decide whether or not a procedure such as a mammogram is medically necessary. Most companies require that scans such as CT and MRI requests be subject to a “medical necessity review”. The purpose of this review is to determine whether a particular diagnostic test or treatment is appropriate and essential. Decisions are made based on the standard of care and the individual health plan’s policies and clinical guidelines. 

If you aren’t insured or don’t meet the criteria for coverage, that doesn’t mean you have to go without. A number of options are available for free or low-cost mammograms. Some states such as New York require insurance companies to be responsible for full payment of some breast imaging services such as screening and diagnostic mammograms (including 3D mammography), ultrasound, and MRI, that is not always the case.

Where Can I Get A Mammogram?

Since breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer (below skin) in women, mammography screenings are available in multiple healthcare location types such as: 

  • Gynecology offices
  • Hospitals 
  • Imaging centers
  • Women’s clinics 

These centers may offer breast MRI screenings as well. 

To book an ultrasound, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.

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