Mammograms are X-rays of breast tissue, and most women ages 45 and above should get regular mammogram screenings as part of their routine health care. Why? Because they’re one of the best ways to detect breast cancer.
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women gets a breast cancer diagnosis in her lifetime, but regular mammograms help detect cancer in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable.
Most of the time, your mammogram results come back normal and there’s nothing you need to do until your next screening. But if you get a call from the doctor’s office and you find out that your results were abnormal, you might be left wondering what it means.
As a breast surgery and oncology specialist, Elvira Klause, MD, FACS, offers specialized care for women. Abnormal mammogram results don’t automatically mean you have cancer. What your results do mean is that you need follow-up testing.
During your mammogram screening, a technician takes a series of X-ray images of each of your breasts. A doctor reviews these images to look for abnormalities, unusual growths, or other possible signs of cancer.
If the doctor finds a suspicious area on any of your mammogram images, you’ll be notified that your results were abnormal. An abnormal mammogram could indicate breast cancer, but there are other possible causes too.
You might have abnormal mammogram results if:
Most of the time, we aren’t able to diagnose the cause right away. That’s why we schedule a follow-up appointment or additional testing if your mammogram results are abnormal.
Abnormal mammogram results can be scary, but it’s not a cancer diagnosis. In fact, only 1 in 10 women who get called back for more testing actually have breast cancer.
Additional testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis, and if it is breast cancer, it’s most treatable when we identify it early.
You might have a diagnostic mammogram, which is typically longer than a screening mammogram. Other tests might include a breast MRI or ultrasound. You might find out the results of these tests at the appointment, but sometimes, the doctor might order a breast biopsy.
A biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure to test for cancer. During a breast biopsy, Dr. Klause takes a small sample of cells from a lump or suspicious area in your breast, and those cells are tested for cancer markers.
Dr. Klause specializes in breast biopsies following abnormal mammogram results. She may perform a needle biopsy or a surgical biopsy depending on your health and your mammogram results.
Breast biopsies generally take 20 minutes to an hour. You stay awake during the procedure, and our team works to make sure you feel little or no discomfort. Once we collect the sample, we evaluate it under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
Biopsy is a safe procedure, and it’s one of the most accurate ways to identify and diagnose cancer. If your mammogram results are unclear or abnormal, a biopsy can offer a definitive diagnosis so you can move ahead with treatment as needed.
Receiving abnormal mammogram results is nerve-wracking, but you don’t have to decipher it alone. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Klause to learn more about our cancer testing and biopsy procedures. Contact us online or call our San Clemente, California, office.