Madison (WKOW) -- Research proves that screening for breast cancer with mammograms saves lives.
But mammograms are not perfect.
They can miss tumors, especially in women with dense breast tissue.
So more doctors are using MRIs to screen for breast cancer in high-risk women.
"This is a picture of my grandparents," said Melanie Akason.
She is at high risk for breast cancer.
Several women in her family have had breast or ovarian cancer and Melanie carries a breast cancer gene.
Akason said, "I discovered several years ago that I am a BRCA1 carrier. I come in every six months to have an exam."
Doctor Sandhya Pruthi said, "for high risk women, MRI has been shown to be better than mammography in detecting disease at its earliest stage."
MRIs can pick up cancers that mammograms sometimes miss, especially in women with dense breast tissue.
This MRI of another patient lit up a cancerous tumor not visible on a mammogram.
MRI gives doctors a clearer look at dense breast tissue, but it has limitations.
It's expensive and it can miss tiny calcifications regularly picked up by mammograms.
So the key is to alternate between mammograms and MRI.
Doctor Pruthi says that's what the American Cancer Society recommends.
"They did not say MRI in the place of mammogrpahy. They said high risk women were to be given both," Doctor Pruthi said.
Akason said, "I feel lucky that i can have this testing."
Another test that holds much promise is called molecular breast imaging.
Researchers believe it may be better than mammograms at detecting cancer and less expensive than MRIs.