How to handle your mammogram results
No one wants to hear that a mammogram result is abnormal. Is something wrong? Did they find cancer? Am I going to be okay? It’s quite common for women, especially those under 50, to be called back for a second mammogram after initially receiving a false positive result. The U.S. Preventive Task Force data shows that for every 10,000 women screened in their forties, 1,212 will be told they have a false positive mammogram, resulting in a follow-up screening. “The majority of the time these call-backs are often good news—you’re not going to end up having a cancer diagnosis,” says Sandhya Pruthi, MD and consultant at the Breast Diagnostic Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Often the extra views are just to help clarify something or give more information to radiologist to suggest if an additional test like an ultrasound or magnification views are needed to get more information before they are concerned about a cancer diagnosis.” If you are asked to come back in for additional screening, it’s important you communicate with your primary doctor and radiologists throughout screening and diagnosis and receive a referral to the appropriate breast specialist if necessary. These are some smart questions it pays to ask your health-care providers:
Did you compare my current mammogram to my previous ones, and how far back did you compare them to?
Women can ask this question of their primary doctor who receives the results of their mammogram or the radiologist, says Peter M. Jokich, MD, FSBI, FACR, associate professor of radiology and director, division of breast imaging at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He says it’s important to compare images to see if any new abnormalities have appeared or grown over time. “Anything that doesn’t grow or change [in patients at Rush] over a two year time interval we pretty much call it benign [for most abnormalities] and don’t go any further,” says Jokich. These are other breast cancer symptoms to pay attention to (besides a lump).