An Abnormal Mammogram

By vera rota
September 15, 2021

After a woman receives word that her mammogram was “abnormal” there is some serious instant anxiety. But, although this classification of your mammogram will likely create the need to have additional testing, the odds are vastly in favor of you not having breast cancer or any other serious condition. 

Mammograms have their pluses and minuses, but they’re still the most effective method for detecting breast cancer before it can be seen or felt with breast exams. 

Here’s some information on what happens after an “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, the patient is notified and asked to have some additional testing performed. 

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 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 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. 

Is it time for your next mammogram? They are recommended for all women over the age of 40. If you have any questions about mammograms or need to make an appointment with your Women’s Health Medical Group OB/GYN, give us a call at (817) 346-5336.



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