Mammogram or Accelerated Breast MRI—Which Do You Need?

June 11, 2020 – 3 min read

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breast mri vs mammogram

Mammogram or Accelerated Breast MRI—Which Do You Need?

Early detection of breast cancer is important. Regular screening can help your health care provider find a small tumor before it spreads to other areas of the body. Not only does an early cancer discovery make more treatment options available, but it also increases survival rates. Imaging tests, such as a mammogram or an Accelerated Breast MRI, also known as abbreviated breast MRI can find the disease before other symptoms show.

What’s the Difference?

A mammogram uses low-dose X-rays to look for abnormalities in the breast. Regular mammogram screening is recommended for:
  • Women between the ages of 45 to 50 —once a year.
  • Women 55 and older —every other year.
  • Younger women who experience breast cancer symptoms or at high-risk for the disease —once a year.

An Accelerated Breast MRI provides detailed images of the inside of the breast to screen for tumors. During this procedure, you are placed inside a circular MRI machine for approximately 12 minutes while images are taken at different angles. Before the procedure, contrast dye will be injected into the arm to give the radiology technologist a clear view of the inside of the breast.

Which Should You Get?

The answer may be both! While women should receive regular mammograms after age 45, those at moderate to high risk for developing breast cancer should also get yearly breast MRI screening. Both tests can increase the chances of a cancerous tumor being spotted early. Because an Accelerated Breast MRI is radiation-free, it is a good option for pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems who cannot receive a mammogram. An Accelerated Breast MRI does not require a referral, so all women, no matter their risk level, can receive this procedure. Accelerated Breast MRIs cost $450, which is significantly cheaper than a breast MRI.
American Health Imaging makes the process of receiving an Accelerated Breast MRI easy. Our quick scheduling with a single phone call, Saturday appointments and a streamlined breast MRI process with 12-minute exams make it simple to fit a test in your busy schedule. In addition, our all-female team consists of technologists and medical specialists who administer the test in a private space so you can feel at ease during the procedure.

Determine Your Breast Cancer Risk

With different screening options available, find out what works best for you:


Women who have no family history of breast cancer, abnormal breast changes or BRCA genetic mutations.
Recommended testing: Regular self-breast examinations and annual mammograms beginning at age 45.


Women who experience the following may be at moderate risk:
  • Changes in breasts, such as a new lump, discharge from nipples, change in position of a nipple, or a rash
  • Dense breasts
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Personal history of breast cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ, lobular carcinoma in situ, or abnormal breast cell changes
Recommended testing: Annual mammograms beginning at age 45 or younger. Speak with your doctor if further testing, such as an Accelerated Breast MRI, is needed. All women at moderate risk can get Accelerated Breast MRIs, because it does not require a referral.


Women who experience the following may be at high-risk:
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Have a parent, sibling or child with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Previously received chest radiation therapy before age 30
Recommended testing: Both Accelerated Breast MRI and mammogram, annually beginning at age 30, according to the American Cancer Society. Always speak with your physician to determine which breast cancer prevention plan works best for you.
Request an appointment for Accelerated Breast MRI at AHI.