What do I do if I have an abnormal mammogram?

A few of the conditions that may cause an abnormal finding on a mammogram are:

  • A mass is identified
  • Microcalcifications
  • Architectural distortion

A mass may be identified on a mammogram which is not palpable (it cannot be felt). The mass may be smooth and round or have an irregular border. It may be painful or not. You may be wondering what to do if you have an abnormal mammogram.

Further screening, such as a diagnostic mammogram or an ultrasound will further identify the mass. A biopsy will likely be ordered in the case of any irregular mass found.

Microcalcifications may be seen consisting of tiny dots of calcium which if clustered in a certain way, may indicate an early cancer. Calcifications are commonly benign and are not associated with calcium intake. A biopsy might be recommended depending on whether the calcifications are determined to be suspicious or indeterminate (uncertain).

Architectural distortion means that there is an asymmetric area of breast tissue which does not look like the rest and appears to be pulling inwards. This may only be overlapping breast tissue, but the possibility of a mass or cancer must be eliminated.

Additional imaging studies may help clarify the abnormality and determine whether biopsy or follow-up imaging in 6 months is required. Diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or MRI may be recommended to get a closer look at the abnormality.

Imaging-guided core biopsy may be needed. If the abnormalities are likely benign, repeat mammogram or ultrasound may be recommended in 6 months to document stability.

Generally, if an abnormality does not change in a year, it is considered benign. If you’re asking yourself “what do I do if I have an abnormal biopsy?”, a breast specialist can help shepherd you through this scary, confusing process.

Remember, most abnormal mammograms do not indicate cancer but must be investigated to make a definite diagnosis either way. At this stage of early diagnosis, should the abnormality prove to be malignant, there is an excellent chance of cure.

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