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Approximately 10% of women obtaining a screening mammogram will be called back for a diagnostic mammogram and possible ultrasound. Diagnostic mammogram is preformed to address a specific clinical concern, such as breast mass, or a finding on the screening mammogram. The diagnostic mammogram contains special views that apply more compression and magnification to better assess specific findings. Sometimes an ultrasound of the breast is preformed in addition to the diagnostic mammogram. If you are called back for a diagnostic mammogram and/or an ultrasound do not be concerned be prepared. Make sure of the time, date, and location of the facility as it may differ from the screening location. Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms or on your breasts the day of your study. Make sure the diagnostic center has obtained a written order for the study from your doctor, or bring one with you on the day of the study. Have a list of questions as to why the diagnostic study is needed, when you will be given the results, who will be giving the results, and will you need a follow up appointment with your primary care giver.
Call backs from screening mammograms create much anxiety yet, are common. Throughout the United States 6 – 12 women out of 100 who have a screening mammogram will be asked to return for additional evaluation. Most of these additional evaluations include special mammogram views and/or an ultrasound examination. Very often, these extra imaging steps provide an explanation of the original finding. A small percentage show findings that do, however, require a biopsy to know if an abnormality is cancer or a benign entity. Women are usually told the results of the additional call back imaging studies on the same day that they are performed.
3D mammography, breast digital tomosynthesis, is a new type of mammogram that has been shown to decrease call backs from screening mammograms. This technology is becoming more widespread and will help decrease the chances that you will be called back from a screening mammogram.
Screening breast ultrasound is another technology that is being more widely used as a supplement to screening mammography in women with dense breasts; this may also help decrease the call backs from screening mammography.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.