Being asked to return for further testing after a mammogram can be a source of anxiety and fear. It may make you wonder whether one of the providers saw something suspicious during your initial scan.
However, there are many reasons why you might get called back in, and many of them are not related to breast cancer. In fact, only about 8 percent of callbacks end up with a breast biopsy, and most of those don’t end up being cancerous.
If you have recently been called for further testing after a regular mammogram, here’s what might be going on.
Sometimes, despite the technician’s best efforts, certain areas of your breast might appear unclear or simply get missed in your initial mammogram. In these cases, you are being called back to have the initial pictures retaken, not because the radiologist saw anything concerning about your breast tissue.
If this is the case, they will usually tell you what happened so you don’t have to worry, but sometimes they are not permitted to disclose this information over the phone.
Sometimes, one area of your breast may appear different from the others on your mammogram. In these cases, your doctor will want further pictures of that area to determine whether the difference indicates a problem or if it’s simply different. Once it’s confirmed as normal for you, have it documented in your file. You can also request technicians to note this difference, saving you from repeat breast imaging during future mammograms.
Dense breast tissue can be hard to image effectively using traditional mammogram techniques. Technicians may need to use other techniques, like ultrasound, to effectively get an image of your breast if you have increased breast density. Once they know you have dense breast tissue, they may offer you alternate imaging techniques for all of your mammograms.
You may get called back if your radiologist finds an area of concern in your breast. Keep in mind that this could be a cyst, a calcification, or something else noncancerous. Just because there is concern does not mean that you automatically have cancer. It simply means that the experts just want a closer look.
If you just had your first breast cancer screening mammogram, your health care provider may want a follow-up appointment to look more closely at something in your breast simply because there’s nothing to compare it to. Many women have abnormalities that are simply part of their breasts and don’t need to be causes for concern. Once the doctors know this, they won’t have to look at it twice every time you go in for a mammogram.
Sometimes, you may get called back after your initial mammogram because you need additional testing or additional imaging. There may be an area of concern, a section that needs breast imaging again, an area that needs imaging from another angle, or something else. You may need a breast ultrasound, biopsy, breast MRI, or simply a diagnostic mammogram (as opposed to a screening mammogram).
The medical staff will give you all the information they can and should get you your results soon. Their goal is never to have you wonder or worry, but instead, they want to get you the complete answers you need.
MyBCTeam is the social network for people with breast cancer and their loved ones. On MyBCTeam, more than 65,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with breast cancer.
Are you wondering why you got called back after your mammogram? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.