Breast MRI

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American women after lung cancer according to the Center for Disease Control. Currently the most common breast cancer screening method is X-ray mammography; however, several studies have shown that MRI has much higher sensitivity for detecting cancer, especially in high-risk women. Our breast MRI research includes imaging at higher spatial resolution to better depict tumor features as well as enabling different image contrast mechanisms to help to classify malignancy and tumor sub-types.

Most commonly, breast cancers are shown in MRI by injecting a contrast agent.  Because of the increased and "leaky" blood supply to the tumor, the tumor becomes brighter than the other tissue soon after injection.  Advanced methods are necessary to image quickly enough to resolve the brightness changes with high image resolution.

Other MRI methods to assess breast cancer include T2-weighted imaging and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI).  We are exploring faster and sharper techniques to acquire these images.  While T2 and DWI are currently not as accurate for cancer detection, they do not require injection of a contrast agent, so may offer cheaper and wider access to MRI for many patients.

Relevant Publications