You had your regular mammogram just like every other year. But this time, the office called and asked you to come back for additional testing. We understand you might feel scared. It’s normal to be nervous about what happens next. But when you know what to expect, it might help you stay calm.
What does a mammogram callback mean?
A patient is called back for additional testing because the doctor wants to get a closer look at a particular area of the breast. It doesn’t mean that something is definitely wrong. In fact, almost 90% of mammogram callbacks turn out to be nothing. But we believe that when it comes to cancer detection, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Understanding your screening mammogram results
The following terms might appear on your mammogram, and they’re all completely normal.
- Calcifications are simply calcium deposits. They are very common, especially after menopause. Calcifications are usually too small to feel in a breast exam. On a mammogram, they look like small white spots.
- Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that are also quite common, especially in women before menopause. Cysts are usually non-cancerous (benign) and don’t require any treatment unless they cause discomfort for the patient.
- Breast Density – In Minnesota, and many other states, patients must be told if they have dense breasts. Breast density can be broken into 4 categories ranging from extremely dense tissue to very little dense tissue. Dense breast tissue is common and not necessarily a problem, however it could make it more difficult to pick up small cancers on your screening mammogram. If you have dense breasts, talk to your doctor about your screening options.
- BI-RADS – This stands for Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System, a widely accepted quality assurance tool used by most breast imagers. BI-RADS uses pre-defined categories to standardize reporting across the country. You can read more about BI-RADS categories here.
When you come in for additional testing, a diagnostic mammogram will be performed. A diagnostic mammogram is different than a screening mammogram. A screening mammogram provides an overall view of the breast to check for concerning areas. A diagnostic mammogram allows the doctor to view one specific location in great detail and from multiple angles. A diagnostic mammogram is performed just like a screening mammogram except the technologist is focused on obtaining the best images of a particular area.
You may also receive an ultrasound, a painless imaging exam that allows your doctor to see your breast tissue in another way.
If imaging tests are not conclusive, your doctor might also schedule a biopsy. During a biopsy, a very fine needle is inserted into the breast to remove tissue, which will be tested for cancer. Although most biopsies come back negative, it’s important to be sure.
Continue to receive yearly mammograms
The doctors at Maple Grove Breast Center strongly recommended that all women receive a screening mammogram each year from age 40. However, it’s always best to talk with your doctor to decide what’s best for you. Screening mammograms help doctors to detect small cancers early, when they are easiest to treat. If you or someone you know has not yet had their yearly mammogram, make an appointment at Maple Grove Breast Center today. We offer same-day appointments and walk-ins are always welcome.