What to expect after an abnormal mammogram

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(BPT) - After delaying due to the pandemic, you finally schedule your mammogram. Once the images are taken and analyzed, you're told there is something abnormal and your doctor wants to take next steps. What can you expect next?

Hearing you have an abnormal mammogram can be scary, but remember, getting called back is common and does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. What it means is there is something that your health care team wants to look at more closely. This may be calcifications, dense breast tissue, a cyst or several other things. Try to keep in mind, fewer than one in 10 women called back for more tests are found to have cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Many women delayed mammograms due to the pandemic and providers are urging women age 40 and older, as well as those in high­-risk groups, to schedule this important appointment as soon as possible. Early detection through regular mammograms provides critical preventative care because it provides insight into what's happening inside your body. If you do have breast cancer, the earlier you find it, the more treatable it is.

Next steps after an inconclusive mammogram

Exploring your options and knowing what to expect after receiving an inconclusive mammogram is important and can help relieve some anxiety you may be experiencing. The radiologist who reviewed your images will likely make recommendations based on what they see and what they want to learn more about. Next steps could include another mammogram, an ultrasound scan or an MRI. Feel free to ask questions and inquire about new technology that could be available to you.

One option that is helping health care teams get detailed images quickly and efficiently is contrast­-enhanced spectral mammography — often called CESM technology. SenoBright HD is GE Healthcare’s CESM option that may be available on the same machine you received your mammogram on, meaning it's possible to get a CESM exam following an abnormal mammogram.

How does CESM work? Dr. Jason Shames, Associate Director of Research, Division of Breast Imaging, Co-Director, Breast Imaging Fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital explains. “After additional imaging, many women learn they have nothing to be concerned about. For a small percentage of women, a physician may recommend additional testing, which typically is a biopsy consisting of a small amount of tissue sent to pathology or imaging follow-up. Ask your doctor questions through each step of your individual health care journey so you can be informed and feel empowered.”

"SenoBright produces the standard mammogram with an additional view almost simultaneous, after the administration of the similar contrast used for CT-Scan,” said Dr. Shames. "The results are 2 images: The standard mammogram and the second which specifically highlights where the contrast is being taken up within the breast. This gives us all the benefits of standard mammography with the additional benefits of a functional imaging which greatly support our ability to detect cancers."

Feel empowered through patient engagement

Being an engaged patient can help you better understand and feel confident in your health care. Feel free to discuss any questions you have with your health care provider. Additionally, there may be opportunities to participate and feel more in control during your exam.

In fact, GE data found two out of three patients prefer SenoBright HD contrast mammography to a breast MRI1. This is attributed to faster procedure time, greater comfort, lower noise level and lower rate of anxiety. Learn more at GEHealthcare.com.

References:

  1. Hobbs et al., Contrast-enhanced spectral mammography (CESM) and contrast enhanced MRI (CEMRI): Patient preferences and tolerance, J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2015


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