The first thing you should do after being called for a follow-up mammogram?
Breathe. Before you let your mind wander to the worst possible scenario,
remember that there are many reasons why you could be asked to come back
for additional testing — and many are not related to cancer.
Why You May Need A Follow-Up Mammogram
Being asked to come back for additional testing does not always mean a
tumor or cancerous cells were found. There are several reasons why you
may be called back, including
- Your first pictures were blurry or otherwise unclear.
- The radiologist cannot see enough due to dense breast tissue. If you have
dense breasts, you may need more images to be taken (rather than the standard two).
- The radiologist noticed a cyst or solid mass on your breast and would like
to follow up.
- Your radiologist noticed an area of your breast that looks different from the rest.
If you’re asked to come back for additional testing, you’ll
likely undergo one or more of the following procedures:
Another Screening Mammogram
If your initial mammogram was unclear or the radiologist would like to
examine your breasts from a different position, you may simply be asked
to have another screening mammogram.
A Diagnostic Mammogram
Just like a screening mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram involves your breasts
being compressed between two plates. The only difference is that a diagnostic
mammogram will take more pictures. This ensures any area in question can
be thoroughly seen.
Whereas a mammogram uses x-rays to view breast tissue, an ultrasound uses
sound waves to create a clear picture. Women who have already had
breast cancer or who receive frequent screenings may be advised to have an ultrasound
in order to limit radiation exposure (though it’s important to note
that mammograms are very safe).
During a breast MRI exam, you’ll be asked to lay face down in an
MRI machine, which looks like a large, white tube. Though the exam is
painless, it can be nerve-racking for women who don’t like being
in enclosed areas.
Getting called for a follow-up exam is not always a bad thing. In fact,
it can even be a good thing. This means your doctor wants to ensure you’re
in good health and isn’t willing to take chances on images that
are less than perfect.