Diagnostic mammograms are done when there are problems such as lump, nipple discharge, change in skin color/texture, or change in size or shape of breast. This may also be done if you are asked to return after your first exam for additional evaluation
Try not to panic. It's pretty common to get called back for more tests after a screening mammogram.
It doesn't mean you have breast cancer. Fewer than one in 10 women called back for more tests end up having breast cancer. It could be what's called a false positive.
A suspicious finding may be just dense breast tissue, a cyst, or even a benign tumor. Other times, the image isn't clear, and a clearer image is needed.
Or, if this is your first mammogram, your doctor has no prior results to compare it to. They simply may want to look at an area more closely.
If your doctor has concerns about your screening mammogram results, they'll schedule another appointment – often within a few days. They'll want you to get new images or have other tests.
Waiting for the tests and the results can be emotionally and physically draining.
One thing you can do at this point is to learn about the process ahead and take charge of your health. That can make you feel better and more empowered.
Your doctor will likely give you another mammogram called a diagnostic mammogram.
It's much like your screening mammogram, but they'll take more pictures of the area of concern.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create a computer image of your breast tissue.
It lets your doctor look more closely at the area of concern.
Soon after — sometimes even during your visit — you'll get the results.
Your doctor will tell you one of three things:
You'll get the written results during your appointment.
A false-positive mammogram looks abnormal even though no cancer is present. The more mammograms you have, the more likely you'll have a false positive result that needs follow-up tests.
Keep in mind:
Even if you need a breast biopsy, it doesn't mean you have cancer. Most biopsy results are not cancer, but it's the only way to find out for sure.
There are a few different types of biopsies. These vary in how your doctor performs them and how much tissue they remove.
Your doctor will decide which biopsy is best for you.
After the biopsy, your doctor will send the tissue or fluid to a lab.
A doctor trained in lab techniques will look at the samples under a microscope. Then, they'll decide whether or not cancer cells are present.
Your doctor should have the results within a week and will go over them with you.
Waiting for appointments and the results of tests is distressing.
You may have strong emotions during this time, including disbelief, anxiety, fear, anger, and sadness.
Some things to remember:
When getting the test results, bringing a friend or family member to your appointment is a good idea. They can provide comfort and support, listen to what your doctor is saying, and take notes.
If the results are negative or benign, the biopsy did not find cancer.
Be sure to ask your doctor if you need more follow-up tests. Also, find out if you can stick to your yearly mammogram or if they want you to have one sooner.
If the mass is malignant or cancerous, the lab tech will include the following details in your test results:
Yes, breast cancer is scary but beatable.
Keep in mind:
The prospect of cancer and its treatment is scary. But there are many people ready to help you.
Once you find a breast cancer doctor and treatment center, you'll be the center of a team of:
We'll work with you and your loved ones to provide the best possible cancer care.
There are also many outside resources to help you.
The American Cancer Society's treatment and survivorship site has a wide range of tools and resources for you, caregivers, and family members.
Breast cancer is a challenge, but you'll have a lot of help to beat it.