It’s easy to feel anxious awaiting mammogram results, but it can be especially unnerving if your doctor calls you back for additional testing. Try not to panic and keep this important fact in mind: Most callbacks do not result in a breast cancer diagnosis. Callbacks typically mean the doctor wants to be thorough and take a closer look at an area of concern.
At Bedford Breast Center in Los Angeles, CA, we focus on our patients’ well-being. As female physicians, we understand the need for improved patient care at all levels—from excellent diagnostic techniques to quick and easy scheduling for breast cancer screenings. We have created a warm, home-like environment that removes much of the stress typically associated with breast health. We consider it a privilege to care for you, and we are with you every step of the way.
You are Not Alone
Mammogram callbacks can be a routine part of a comprehensive screening process. Getting called back after a mammogram is fairly common, and the statistics below show that callbacks more often than not demonstrate safe findings and not cancer:
- 1 in 10 women will have an irregular mammogram
- 8-10% of all mammograms get called back and fewer than 1% will be diagnosed with cancer
- There is a 16% chance of getting called back on your first mammogram
When you receive a callback, try not to think that a breast cancer diagnosis is imminent. Additional testing and evaluation are common, especially for premenopausal patients and those getting a mammogram for the first time (as there are no previous mammogram results to compare with the current results).
Reasons You Could Get Called Back
You may receive a callback after your mammogram if:
- The images weren’t clear enough.
- The radiologist detected calcifications (calcium build-up). Calcium deposits are very common and are usually benign, especially after menopause.
- You have dense breast tissue, making it difficult to see certain areas of your breasts.
- The radiologist detected an area that stands apart from the rest of your breast tissue – this could be for a variety of reasons, most of which are safe. Some examples are a cyst or fluid-filled sac, tissue stacked on top of itself, or non-cancerous solid mass like a fibroadenomas.
- Doctors want to take a closer look or examine an area from different angles.
At Bedford Breast Center, we call our patients if they need to come back to explain what we’re seeing and what we expect to find when they come back for new images. As Dr. Richardson states in this video: “Statistically, more than likely, what we see on your mammogram can be explained by something safe, and we want to give you those safe answers as soon as possible.”
If Your Doctor Recommends a Biopsy
Additional screening, such as a biopsy may be recommended. A biopsy is the best way to evaluate if a suspicious lump or portion of your breast is cancerous. If you are concerned, ask lots of questions. Here are a few to get you started:
- Why do I need a biopsy?
- What do you expect to find out from a biopsy?
- Will it require surgery?
- Can I opt for a minimally-invasive biopsy removal?
- Will I need a clip marker placement? Are clip markers optional?
A biopsy is usually a simple procedure that can help put your mind at ease about a suspicious mammogram or a newly discovered breast lump. There are 3 types of breast biopsy procedures:
- Fine-needle aspiration biopsy
- Core-needle biopsy
- Surgical biopsy
The type of biopsy used depends on factors such as size and location and size of the lump, the number of lumps or tumors, and how suspicious the lump looks. In our Los Angeles, CA facility, we commonly use the core-needle and surgical biopsy procedures. After taking tissue samples, your doctor may leave a marker or clip to identify the biopsy site, which will be visible on a mammogram and sometimes also on ultrasound. This will help your doctor locate the site easily when needed, whether to monitor the area to ensure it remains stable, or to use it for guidance and confirmation if removal is needed. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of the biopsy options she recommends for you.
If I am Routinely Called Back
A callback usually means additional imaging. While most abnormal findings turn out to be benign, it is crucial to complete all follow-up procedures as recommended by your doctor.
We may routinely call you back if your mammogram results show that you have dense breast tissue. Dense breasts are those with a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat. Some women have denser breast tissue than others, and it’s a normal finding. Women with dense breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who don’t have dense breasts. 3D mammography at our medical center, in particular, offers more precise and accurate imaging for those with and without dense breasts. By making it possible to catch something that might have been obscured with traditional mammogram technology, 3D mammography provides significant advantages for women with dense breasts or other women who prefer a more thorough screening process.
Try to make the experience as stress-free as possible. You may also ask if you can get immediate results for your mammogram. Ask if you qualify for a same-day read. You may request an ultrasound at the same time as well so you don’t need to go home and feel anxious about waiting. If after you go back for further screenings/tests you are diagnosed with breast cancer, remember to take a breath and know that we have options with fantastic outcomes at the Bedford Breast Center.
Schedule A Breast Cancer Screening Appointment At Our Medical Center Today
We value your peace of mind. No matter where your breast health journey takes you, Bedford Breast Center is your pillar of support. This is why we want to make it easier for you with 3D mammography, same-day appointments for urgent issues such as abnormal findings on imaging results, as well as on-site consultations with a breast surgical oncologist, so there is no gap between evaluation and treatment. For more information, contact our Beverly Hills medical center.