What happens if you are called after your mammogram?

What could it be? 

There are many reasons you may be asked to come back after your mammogram. If it is your first mammogram the doctor may want additional pictures because there are no other images to compare to. There may be questionable areas of dense breast tissue, a cyst or a tumor that is not cancer.

Follow-up Appointment - What to expect: 

A diagnostic mammogram is likely during your follow-up. During this visit, an x-ray of additional pictures is often taken so that any areas of concern may be studied more closely. A radiologist is present to advise the technologist to make sure all images needed are taken.

You also may have an ultrasound test (using sound waves) which creates a computer image of the breast tissue. Some women may also have an MRI (click to find out more information about an MRI). During an MRI you will be asked to lie face down inside the MRI machine while sensors capture information to create detailed images of the tissues inside your breasts. This is a painless test that takes about an hour and may be uncomfortable for those who do not like confined small spaces.

You can expect your results the day of your tests during the visit and are likely to be told one of three things:

  • There is nothing to worry about the area of concern turned out to be nothing and you may return to your regular mammogram schedule.
  • There is a slight chance to be more concerned and that your next mammogram should be scheduled sooner (4-6 months) to make sure there are no changes over time.
  • Cancer cannot be ruled out and a biopsy is needed to get more information and know for sure.

What is a biopsy?

According to the American Cancer Society "Even if you need a breast biopsy, it still doesn’t mean you have cancer."

Most biopsy results are not cancer but it is the best way to rule cancer out. For this procedure, a small amount of breast tissue is removed and reviewed under a microscope. A needle may be used or incision made depending on the size, location, quantity, and other medical conditions you may have. The tissue sample is sent to a lab where a pathologist will look more closely. The results of a biopsy may take a few days or more than a week.

If no cancer cells are found, the report will indicate that the cells in the lump are benign, meaning non-cancerous. However, some type of follow-up or treatment may still be needed, as recommended by the healthcare professional.

If cancer cells are found, the report will provide more information to help determine the next steps.