Understanding BI-RADS

BI-RADS is an acronym for Breast-Imaging Reporting and Data System that represents a standardized reporting system for breast imaging published by the American College of Radiology. 

Your BI-RADS score is an important part of your medical history. When you understand your score, you can keep track, along with your physician, of your results and actively participate in your medical care. 

The BI-RADS system uses numerical codes assigned by a radiologist to provide a clear understanding of a patient’s breast imaging report. The BI-RADS Assessment Categories, or numbers, are used for mammography, ultrasound and breast MRI imaging.

BI-RADS By the Numbers

BI-RADS 0: This means your study is not yet complete, and further information is needed. This can include comparison to a prior study or possibly additional mammogram or ultrasound imaging. You should make sure that further evaluation is completed. 

BI-RADS 1: This means your study was negative and you should continue your routine screening. 

BI-RADS 2: This means your study was normal (i.e., no cancer), but other findings, such as a cyst, are described in the report. You should continue your routine screening.

BI-RADS 3: This means your study is probably normal but a repeat study should be completed in at least 6 months. The chance of breast cancer is approximately 2 percent in this category, and you should make sure to obtain your repeat study when indicated. 

BI-RADS 4: This means the findings on your study are suspicious, and there is an approximately 23 to 34 percent chance of breast cancer. You will need a biopsy to make a diagnosis, and you should talk to your referring physician about questions.

BI-RADS 5: This means your study results are highly suspicious with a 95 percent chance of breast cancer. You need to have a biopsy for diagnosis, and you should talk to your referring physician about questions. 

BI-RADS 6: This means you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer and you should discuss your treatment and imaging plan with your physician.

For more information, contact the Barnes-Jewish St. Peter's Breast Health and Women's Center at 636.916.9541.

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