Breast MRI Is Now Offered at Two Cooley Dickinson Hospital Locations

NORTHAMPTON and AMHERST — This fall, Cooley Dickinson Hospital began offering MRI scans to women at high risk for developing breast cancer. However, while breast MRI is offered at the main hospital campus in Northampton and at the Amherst Community Outpatient Center and it expands the care options available at the region’s community hospital, breast MRI is not for everyone.

According to Focus on Care, a publication of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center, recent research showing the value of an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is fueling confusion about when an MRI is appropriate and when traditional mammography should be used.

“Mammography remains the most reliable and affordable screening tool for women who do not have symptoms,” the article indicates, adding that mammography is also the only imaging method proven to decrease breast cancer deaths. Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual mammograms for healthy women ages 40 and older.

To meet the criteria for a breast MRI scan, a patient’s history is screened carefully by her physician.

Nancy King, director of imaging at CDH, says a woman must have a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer, such as carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, or having multiple family members with breast cancer, which would raise the lifetime risk of breast cancer above 20{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}. A simple tool for estimating one’s personal risk of developing breast cancer can be found at www. cancernet.nci.nih.gov/bcrisktool

“This is definitely an area where we want to work with our community members to make sure they are informed,” said King.

Since Cooley Dickinson offered a woman’s health program in October that presented information about mammography and breast MRI, King said her office has been “flooded with phone calls” from community members who are interested in learning more about the subject.

She said a second health program on the subject will be offered in the spring, but she encourages women over age 40 to speak with their doctor or gynecologist about the importance of mammography.

When it comes to the various types of screening technology available, radiologists at Cooley Dickinson Hospital use the evidence gleaned from each technology at different points in a woman’s diagnosis to build a detailed understanding of each unique condition.

In addition to breast MRI, screening mammography is also offered at the CDH campus in Northampton and at the Amherst Community Outpatient Center. Interventional breast procedures such as stereotactic biopsy, ultrasound guided biopsy, and wire localization procedures are offered at CDH. To schedule a mammogram at either location, call             (413) 582-2101      .

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