What Happens if My Mammogram is Abnormal?
If you receive news that your most recent mammogram has indicated an abnormality in breast tissue, chances are you want answers faster than they are available. Understandably, women want to know what it means to have an abnormal mammogram and what steps come next. We’ll discuss that here. First, though, we want to state that an abnormal mammogram does not mean breast cancer. There are several other reasons that this may occur.
Several weeks after a mammogram, patients usually receive a letter or notification from their physician or the radiologist that their results were normal. If an abnormality is identified, a doctor usually notifies the patient within a few days with instructions regarding what to do next.
Reasons for an irregular mammogram include:
- A benign tumor
- A benign cyst
- Dense breast tissue
- Blurry x-ray imaging
Additional images, which may be further mammograms or ultrasound, may be obtained so they can be compared to the initial images.
What is the Next Step after an Abnormal Mammogram?
Historically, doctors have ordered additional mammogram screening to follow up on an abnormality. This second diagnostic mammogram is performed in the same way as a routine mammogram screening but involves more angles and images so more of the breast can be observed. Before ending the screening, the mammogram technician may consult with the on-site radiologist to ensure enough images have been obtained.
Sometimes, the radiologist or healthcare provider recommends ultrasound instead of additional mammography. A breast ultrasound also observes masses in tissue but, instead of using radiation, the ultrasound uses sound waves. During a breast ultrasound, the patient lies on the table in a comfortable position that allows the technician to move a transducer over the skin. Before placing the instrument against the skin, the technician applies gel. This helps the transducer move smoothly. Ultrasounds do not emit radiation. This diagnostic test is painless.
Follow-up diagnostic imaging after an abnormal mammogram provides the doctor with the necessary information to plan the next step. Results may indicate that:
- Breast tissue is normal and mammograms can resume normally.
- No conclusive evidence was found to confirm or rule out a mass. In this instance, the patient may return for screenings in a few months.
- A breast biopsy is needed.
Have you had an abnormal mammogram? Would you like the screening repeated to further explore the findings of your first test? Contact PURE Mammography on Long Island at 631-652-3424. We’re here to provide accurate, comfortable screenings.