Breast MRI Scan an Important Addition for Women With Breast Cancer

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When you finish your treatment, you want to know that you've done everything possible to get rid of the cancer -- and never see the darn thing again! The last thing you want to have happen after graduating from "Cancer Land" is to find out about a new breast cancer that could have been found earlier.

Also, the value of MRI is not just limited to the other breast. It also has an important role in evaluating the same breast that the main cancer is found in -- to see if there is more than one cancer in there or an incomplete removal of the first one.

This study, however, did not talk about the use of MRI to detect other cancers in the same breast.

A Costly (but Important) Precaution

Women might need to put up a fight to get their insurance companies to pay for an MRI scan. MRI is expensive, and some medical insurance carriers are reluctant to pay.

Women might need to put up a fight to get their MRI scan paid for. MRI is expensive and some medical insurance carriers are reluctant to pay.

The best way to get your insurance company to cover the cost is to:

1) Get your doctor to write a clear, strongly worded request that explains why you need it; and

2) Get approval for the test before it's done (rather than putting up a fight afterward).

The take-home message is that MRI scan is important in the careful evaluation of both breasts upon a diagnosis of breast cancer. MRI is an extra tool in addition to mammography, clinical examination and self-examination. MRI does not replace mammography.

You have to stand up for yourself. Ask for the tests that you need to protect your greatest gift: your life.

Dr. Marisa Weiss is president and founder of breastcancer.org. She is also director of breast radiation oncology at Lankenau Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa.

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