Follow-up results of BI-RADS 3 lesions on magnetic resonance imaging: a retrospective study

Diagn Interv Radiol. 2024 May 13;30(3):175-182. doi: 10.4274/dir.2023.232393. Epub 2024 Jan 31.


Purpose: The categorization of Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) 3 lesions is not as clear in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as it is in mammography (MG). With the increasing number of MRI scans currently being conducted globally, incidentally detected lesions falling into the probably benign category are frequently being observed. In this study, our aim was to investigate the imaging characteristics and follow-up results of BI-RADS 3 lesions detected by MRI and to determine their malignancy rates.

Methods: Breast MRI scans performed between January 2010 and January 2020 and classified as BI-RADS 3 lesions were retrospectively analyzed. The study included 216 lesions with known biopsy or surgical excision results or with at least one year of radiological follow-up. We assessed the patients' age, the presence of breast cancer, the follow-up interval, and the imaging findings at the beginning and during the follow-up. Lesions that remained stable, disappeared, or decreased in size and had a benign histopathological diagnosis were classified as benign. Lesions with the histopathological diagnosis of malignancy, identified by either biopsy or surgical excision, were classified as malignant. We determined the malignancy rate based on the histopathology and follow-up results.

Results: Considering the follow-up results of all cases, 8% of lesions were excised, 0.5% decreased in size, 1.4% became enlarged, 17.1% disappeared, and 73% remained stable. The malignancy rate was 2.8%. A significant relationship was found between lesion shape and malignancy, as progression to malignancy was more likely in round lesions than in other types. An irregular margin, heterogeneous enhancement, and kinetic curve (type 2) features were significant for lesion upgrade to malignancy.

Conclusion: The malignancy rate in BI-RADS 3 lesions detected by MRI is low and falls within the accepted cancer rate for MG and sonography. Changes in size, morphology, and enhancement pattern should be considered in terms of malignancy development during follow-up. The follow-up intervals should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Keywords: BI-RADS 3; MRI; Probably benign; breast; cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Mammography / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies