Your Mammogram Call Back: Know the Facts
A mammogram is the most important imaging tool that doctors use to detect early signs of breast cancer. In fact, a mammogram can detect breast cancer up to three years before it is actually felt. It is a painless and quick screening test that could save your life.
Many women, however, are surprised when they get a “call back” after their routine mammogram. It can trigger panic and fear that a breast cancer diagnosis is on the horizon. However, it is important for women to know that additional testing (a call back) is quite common, especially in premenopausal patients or those getting a mammogram the first time.
Did you know that, according to the American Cancer Society, about 10% of women who have a mammogram will be called back for more tests? However, only 8-10% of those women will need a biopsy and 80% of those biopsies turn out be benign. And less than 10% of women who are called back for more tests are diagnosed with breast cancer. We hope this eases your fear about actually having cancer if you get a call back.
Why Do Call Backs Happen?
A patient is typically called back for more tests because an area of the breast needs to be examined more closely. Radiologists look for tumors and calcifications when reading a mammography. Even when these features are both benign, it could still expose a risk factor for women to develop breast cancer in the future. When a patient does have high-risk factors for breast cancer, it is all the more reason to monitor her exam more closely and not hesitate to call her back for additional testing.
What Happens at a Call Back?
Depending on the area of suspicion that needs to be examined, your doctor may order one or more of the following types of breast cancer screenings at your follow-up appointment:
- Diagnostic Mammogram (longer imaging study)
- Breast Ultrasound
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
In most cases, your physician will start out with the most basic and least invasive screening possible. If needed, you will progress to more advanced imaging and a biopsy when applicable. Results are typically readily available, either immediately after an ultrasound or up to a week after a biopsy.
If you’ve been called back after your routine annual mammogram, don’t panic. Be grateful that modern medicine is able to give such an accurate peace of mind in detecting breast cancer. If there is a true reason to worry, rest assured that our team at North Pointe OB/GYN Associates will walk you through each step of your treatment plan.