The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that by the age of 40, women receive their first mammogram, and should continue to receive one once every year. After a mammogram screening, most women receive a letter within 30 days of their appointment reporting that the results were normal; however, this is not always the case. If anything suspicious is spotted in the first mammogram, you may receive a callback for a follow-up test. Receiving a callback can often be scary and nerve-racking, but a suspicious finding does not always mean breast cancer. According to The American Cancer Society, less than 10 percent of women called back for additional testing are found to have breast cancer.

What else could a suspicious finding be? It could be dense breast tissue, a cyst or a benign tumor. What else could a callback mean? If the image from the original mammogram is not clear enough, we will ask you to come back in for it to be retaken. Or, if you have only received one mammogram, we may call you back in to look at an area more closely since we do not have any previous results to compare it to.

What will happen at your follow-up appointment? You are likely to receive an additional mammogram called a diagnostic mammogram. During a diagnostic mammogram, more pictures are taken of the breasts so that any areas of concern can be carefully reviewed. We may also perform an ultrasound test to look more closely at any areas of concern found on the mammogram. The ultrasound test is painless and does not expose you to any radiation. In addition to a second mammogram and the ultrasound test, some women will receive an MRI for more detailed images of the breast tissue.

At the conclusion of the follow-up appointment, you can expect to be told one of three things:

  • The suspicious area turned out to be nothing of concern and you can resume your annual screening schedule.
  • The area is nothing to worry about, but you should have your next mammogram sooner than normal to make sure that nothing changes over time.
  • Cancer was not completely ruled out, and you need to schedule a biopsy.

Even if you do need a breast biopsy, it still does not mean you definitely have cancer. In fact, the majority of biopsy results are not cancer, but a biopsy is the only way to completely rule it out. While receiving callbacks and waiting for appointments and test results can be very frightening, please remember that less than 10 percent of callbacks result in breast cancer and these annual mammogram screenings are meant to detect breast cancer early on. The sooner that breast cancer is diagnosed, the better.

Maryville Imaging, LLC is a full-service diagnostic center offering: High-field Large Bore MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Digital Mammography, Digital X-Ray-Fluoroscopy and Bone Densitometry. We offer quick mammography results and a comfortable environment with a courteous staff that takes your healthcare seriously. We encourage all women age 40 and older to schedule regular mammogram screenings—it just might save your life. Give us a call today to schedule your mammogram at 618-288-4929. To learn more about our digital mammography service, visit