Anyone had MRI instead of Mammogram screening on the NHS?

Hi all


Has anyone managed to get yearly/ bi-annual MRI instead of Mammo on the NHS (for the 5 years post diagnosis)? if not, can you pay privately but still remain in the NHS for everything else?


I have recently had a mastectomy after a tiny Grade 2/3 lump was detected only using MRI.This is my 2nd occurrence (first one 2008) and I was back on the 3 yearly screening programme. The mammo detected slght changes in another area of the breast . Ultrasound detected nothing . Fortunately ( and to my surprise) the radiologist agreed to an MRI as a bottom line check, when I said I’d had one before and have dense breast tissue. This detected a 0.6 mm lump in another area, which she then managed to needle test using U/S.


I feel very very lucky.Had she not agreed to this, I would have had a growing tumour for the next 3 years until my routine mammo. Likely mets and a much poorer prognosis.



 If my Specialist breast care centre won’t agree to NHS MRI, I am prepared to pay for annual MRI privately if necessary. Does anyone have experience of how this works and how you go about it? I have one breast and one mastectomy with no recon.



Any advice appreciated. Any experience of the Nice guidelines on when MRI can be used for screening?


Many thanks



Hi Helen

Sorry you haven’t had any replies to your question as yet, but hopefully someone will now see your post and get back to you.

You are most welcome to give our helpline team a ring and talk to them about your thoughts/concerns, they’re here to support you through this.  Calls are free 0808 800 6000 lines open 9-5 weekdays and 10-2 Saturdays.

Take care,

Jo, Moderator

Hi Helen. Wow - how lucky that this was caught so early with MRi, and what good thing that you told them you’d had one before, and why…


I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to your question, but it’s something I have wondered about. I’d be really interested to know the answer myself, as I was also told I had dense breast tissue - and my mammogram showed nothing at all.  Am already thinking about how to keep a clear head once treatment plan is over (and it hasn’t even started yet!)


Best to you, 


Hi, i havent posted on here in quite a while, but i thought i would share my experience and hopefully you will find it helpful.


i was dx in Nov 2011.  i found a small lump myself. was referred to breast clinic. i had mammo, ultrasound, then biopsy taken.  The Mammo didnt show up my lump.  They could see on the ultrasound what i could feel and they could feel it as well.  i assume the radiologist didnt like the look of it, (they had said it didnt look like a cyst on ultra sound which everyone initially thought it was on their examination by gp, breast doctor etc).  Anyway biopsy came back grade 1.  i went onto have lumpectomy.  they removed lump but one of margins wasnt clear.  so had further op.  second op to clear margin, found 2 more tiny spots, literally 3mm of cells.  went onto third op to clear margin, yet again tiny area of some cells.  at this point i agreed with my surgeon i wanted a mx.  following mx rest was clear.  i was 39 at the time so young really in terms of breast cancer.  they said annual mammos upto 50 then move onto national programme if everything ok.  i had already mentioned about having mri instead which they said wouldnt be necessary. Anyway i didnt let it drop and consultant surgeon said she would speak with radiologist who looked at my orginal mammo.  obviously i was basing my argument on the fact that the mammo didnt show the original lump, which wasnt that small when it came out, but then the further small areas of cells.  which i think were 3, 4 and 7 mm each.  anyway they did agree i could have an annual mri.  i still have an annual mammo as well.  the mri i have is with a contrast dye on my remaining breast.  dont get me wrong i hate having it, its not very pleasant, your in there upto an hour having scans, you have a cannula in your hand connected up for when they put contrast dye in, then they do series of more scans. (the dye makes me feel a bit funny, i seem to react a bit to it, typical, but i know what to expect now) but i am glad i didnt let it drop.  obvioulsy the younger you are, the more likely you have denser breast i think, some more than others i presume.  My BCN did say once i was on tamoxifen my breast would become less dense and pert and more in a menapausal state, which it is!  I would keep on at them.  if you feel you have a good basis for an argument to have mri, you’ve got your facts together then put it to them.  I hope this was helpful to you, take care and lots of hugs xxx 

Hi, I am due to have a mastectomy next week for a diagnosis which is known to be often contralateral. No indications via imaging that it is in both breasts and therefore the consultant is going ahead with a single mastectomy. I did talk to him about this yesterday and he said that in future I would be screened yearly with a mammogram. I pointed out that the CA I have is usually not detected by mammogram and therefore didn’t really feel reassured by this. He informed me that I would therefore have an MRI scan every other year. I’m feeling that every other year isn’t enough but feel glad that I brought it up early in order that it can be an ongoing discussion. Don’t feel afraid to discuss your worries with your team on a need - to basis, if that means bringing it up several times then so be it. This isn’t a demanding approach to take, but more one of making it known what your concerns are, why and how they can be allayed ? It perhaps differs from area to area, but to be fair I find that even my GP is willing to arrange an MRI if he thinks it’s needed to put a mind at rest.

Good Luck