Having an abnormal screening mammogram can be worrisome. Fortunately, most women with abnormal mammograms do not have breast cancer. An abnormal mammogram may be due to a mass/density, a collection of calcium deposits (called calcifications), cysts or other benign breast changes. Sometimes, normal breast structures can overlap in a way that can look abnormal even if nothing is really there.
- If you have an abnormal screening mammogram, the next step depends on the type of abnormality found.
- If the abnormality is likely benign, you may be advised to have a follow-up mammogram or ultrasound in six months.
- If the mammogram shows an area that is abnormal, the next step is to have additional imaging, such as a diagnostic mammogram and/or ultrasound. During a diagnostic mammogram, a mammography technician works with a radiologist to study the area that feels or appears abnormal. Different angles can be used, and the picture can be magnified and/or targeted to a particular area of interest. The radiologist will review the mammogram immediately and discuss the results with you. In some cases, an ultrasound may be performed to better define the abnormality.
- In many cases, the diagnostic mammogram shows that the abnormality is benign and no further testing is needed. However, if the diagnostic mammogram is indeterminate or suspicious for cancer, a breast biopsy is recommended.
If the imaging remains indeterminate after diagnostic imaging, the facility will navigate you to a breast surgeon for evaluation and possible biopsy. During your consultation, the surgeon will review the images and perform a physical examination. If the surgeon is in agreement with the radiologist’s findings, a biopsy will be scheduled for a later date. The type of biopsy will be determined based on the modality the abnormality was seen with. If the abnormality was seen on mammography, a stereotactic biopsy will be performed, and if the abnormality was seen on ultrasound, an ultrasound-guided biopsy will be performed. These biopsies are performed by one of our breast surgeons using state of the line technology offered at the Hunterdon Breast Surgery Center.