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Why might I need x-rays after a breast-cancer-screening mammogram?

After a screening (annual) mammogram, you may be asked to return for more x-ray pictures or images. About 5% to 10% of all people who have a screening mammogram need to have more images taken or additional testing. This does not mean that there is anything wrong with your breast or that the person who did your screening mammogram did something wrong. Usually these diagnostic tests are needed because there was a change in the breast tissue.

Some of the reasons more images or tests may be needed include:
  • Sometimes the breast tissue overlaps on the x-ray, making it look like a lump or mass is present. X-ray images taken at different angles can show if there truly is a mass present.
  • If a mass is seen on the mammogram, extra images or tests can help the radiologist (doctor who reads x-rays) see all sides and edges of the mass very clearly.
  • Calcium buildup, or calcifications, may occur in breast tissue. There are two types of calcifications -- benign (not suspicious) and suspicious. Most are benign. Extra images or tests can help the radiologist decide the type of calcification that is present.

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Important: 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.