About Abnormal / Irregular Mammogram Results

abnormal mammogram

What is an abnormal mammogram?

Abnormal mammogram results occur when breast imaging detects an irregular area of the breast that has the potential to be malignant. This could come in the form of small white spots called calcifications, lumps or tumors called masses, and other suspicious areas. Generally, when mammography results detect an abnormality during a breast screening, they will notify the patient and ask that she come in for testing. Sometimes irregular mammograms are the result of a false-positive and are deemed to be non-cancerous. These situations are typically avoided by using high-resolution 3D mammography when screening for breast cancer. At PURE Mammography on Long Island, we pride ourselves on offering state-of-the-art 3D mammograms with high levels of accuracy.

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Who is at risk for irregular mammogram results?

Abnormal mammogram results can occur in anyone but are most common in women between 40 and 75 years of age. Genetic predisposition or past irregular mammogram images may increase your potential for abnormal mammogram test results.

It is important to undergo regular mammogram screenings with trusted, certified specialists in breast imaging in order to detect an abnormality early.

What should I do if I have an abnormal mammogram?

Typically, after a mammogram, you will receive notice of a normal mammogram. But if doctors see something suspicious, they will notify you of abnormal mammogram results. At that point, you will be called back to take new pictures or to have further testing. Finding out that you need further testing can be scary and you may feel some anxiety, but it does not always indicate that cancer is present. Abnormal mammogram results could be due to a non-cancerous tumor, cyst, or dense breast tissue. Often, patients return for further testing and are found to be cancer-free.

How common are abnormal mammograms?

Each year about 10 percent of women who receive mammograms will be told their mammogram was abnormal, and they will be recalled for additional testing. But, as mentioned above, only 1-2 percent of women who receive an abnormal mammogram will need a biopsy, and most of these biopsies won’t find any cancer.

What do I do in the event cancer is detected after further testing? 

If cancer is present, your doctor will consult with you. He or she may then want to ask for further tests to determine exactly what type of breast cancer it is, if it has spread elsewhere, and if it is sensitive to hormones like estrogen and progesterone. This information will then determine the best treatment approach.

 Having a regular mammogram is key to early detection of breast cancer. Why is this such a key? There is a 99 percent 5-year survival rate for women who are diagnosed with cancer while it is still confined to the breast and most breast cancers are found at this stage.

What tests can be done after an abnormal mammogram?

Even with an abnormal mammogram, the chances are you do not have breast cancer. Only 8 to 10 percent of women who are told they have an abnormal mammogram will need a biopsy, and of those biopsies, 80 percent show benign results.

Still, after an abnormal mammogram, it’s likely that these additional tests will come next:

Diagnostic mammogram

This is a more in-depth series of diagnostic images that take a closer look at the areas of concern or repeat views of areas where the results were unclear.

Diagnostic ultrasound 

These tests use sound waves to create their images that are then displayed on a computer monitor. A hand-held transducer is moved firmly over your breast while you lie on your back. Ultrasounds can provide a better view of a mass or structure seen on the mammogram.

Breasts MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) 

An MRI uses radio waves and magnets to build a detailed digital picture of internal structures. You’ve heard of MRIs for issues such as knee injuries because of their ability to show soft tissue. For a breast MRI, you enter the MRI tube lying on your stomach. MRIs are painless, but headphones are provided to mask the noise involved.

 These tests will usually be sufficient to rule out the need for a biopsy. But, as mentioned, in 8-10 percent of cases a biopsy may be the next step.

How do I know if I need a biopsy after an abnormal mammogram?

Your doctor will likely recommend a breast biopsy if an unexplained mass is found in your breast tissue. The goal of a biopsy is to extract cells from within the mass for microscopic examination. Most biopsies are negative, meaning they are free of cancerous cells.

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See What Our Patients Are Saying!

(Review taken from Google)
“This place is absolutely fabulous! When I first walked in, I was warmly greeted by Linda, the receptionist. She’s absolutely a gem! The director Felecia, is so sweet and will make sure you’re being taken care of! Danielle, the mammography technician, is extremely professional and she is thorough. She gave me clear and precise directions throughout the process, also making sure that I was comfortable. For anyone who’s reading this review, you are PURELY, in good hands, once you’ve visited this facility. (You like how I did that right)?
Not for nothing, to all the women out there, we know that this experience can be uncomfortable and not fun. I assure you, the ladies at Pure Mammography will help you through the process as much as possible. Thank you Pure Mammography for your professionalism and for being you!” – Ebony Washington

Medical Arts Radiology has multiple women’s imaging sites across Long Island, including PURE Mammography. PURE provides the latest in mammogram technology and comfort, using 3D mammography and providing a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. Expert specialists who are committed to patient comfort and care increase the likelihood that the first set of images will provide accurate results. However, if specialists find abnormal mammogram images, a patient may be called back to PURE or one of our other Medical Arts Radiology locations for further testing.

Abnormal Mammogram FAQs

Did you compare my current mammogram to my previous ones? How far back do you compare?

This is to look at any new abnormalities that have appeared or grown over time. If an item doesn’t grow or change in two years, it doesn’t need any attention, as it’s benign.

Is the nodule a liquid cyst or a solid lump?

Liquid cysts or solid lumps can cause an abnormal mammogram. An ultrasound will then determine the consistency of the lump, whether it’s a cystic lesion filled with water or a solid lump. Solid lumps could be cancerous.

What are microcalcifications?

Microcalcifications often lead to abnormal mammograms. These are calcium deposits, and additional magnified views will be necessary to determine if they are suspicious and merit a biopsy.

Do I have dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue can show up white on a mammogram, the same as breast cancer tumors do. This makes it difficult to discern whether the white is made up of milk glands, milk ducts, and fibrous tissue, the makeup of dense breast tissue. Women need to be aware of whether they have dense breast tissue, as other tests, such as ultrasound or an MRI may be better diagnostic tools.

What is a BI-RADS score?

Federal law requires radiologists to give each mammogram a BI-RADS (Breast Imaging and Reporting Data System) rating based on how concerning the results of the mammogram are. A score of one indicates a completely negative mammogram, a score of three means there is a tumor, but it is most likely benign, and a score of five is considered “highly suggestive” that the abnormality found is malignant.

Does an abnormal mammogram always mean a cancer diagnosis?

It’s important to know an abnormal mammogram doesn’t always result in a cancer diagnosis, not even close. It’s more likely the presence of a cyst, breast dense tissue, or microcalcification is behind the abnormal designation and calls for additional screening. Some women can put off the additional screening due to fear, but that’s not necessary, and surely not wise.

Schedule Your 3D Mammogram Today!

Having regular 3D mammograms performed by an experienced board-certified breast imaging specialist is the best way to detect abnormalities early. Visit PURE Mammography in Lake Grove today, no appointment necessary. You can also call 631-652-3424 or fill out the form on this page to pre-schedule an appointment or learn more about PURE.

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