Mammogram Follow-up Exams
What Happens After A "Suspicious Mammogram"?
Learning that the results of a mammogram are suspicious and require follow-up
tests can be nerve-wracking, which is why we've implemented a protocol
rooted in speed and accuracy to reduce the wait time between follow-up
exams and answers. In most cases, we're able to schedule follow-up
tests the same day.
Below you'll find a summary of the various tests and follow-up procedures
that may be indicated following a suspicious mammogram.
You May Need An Ultrasound
A breast ultrasound uses reflected sound waves to view the internal structures
of the breast. It can show all areas of the breast, including the area
closest to the chest wall, which is hard to study with a mammogram. A
breast ultrasound helps determine whether a breast lump is filled with
fluid or is solid. An ultrasound generally does not replace the need for
a mammogram; it is often used to further evaluate and complement was has
been seen on a mammogram.
We May Need To Obtain a Breast Tissue Sample
There are several methods used to obtain a tissue sample, also known as
a biopsy. Your doctor will consider a number of factors to determine which
method is most appropriate for you, including the results of prior exams
and the type of breast tissue you have.
Fine Needle Aspiration
Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy is a commonly used procedure that involves
placing a very thin needle inside the abnormality and extracting cells
for microscopic evaluation. Ultrasound is used to precisely locate the
abnormality. The procedure itself takes only seconds, and the minor discomfort
is comparable to a blood test. The doctor will take a sample of the abnormality
with a thin needle held in a needle holder. Two or three samples from
the abnormality are typically required in order to provide an accurate
diagnosis. Each sample will only take about 10 seconds to obtain and the
whole procedure, from start to finish, generally takes no more than 90 minutes.
Core Needle Biopsy
Another option is a core needle biopsy. This is a safe, proven and minimally
invasive form of breast biopsy that spares most women the discomfort,
scarring and recovery associated with a traditional surgical breast biopsy.
With the help of a local anesthetic, a hollow needle is used to extract
multiple thin cores of tissue. This outpatient procedure is generally
completed in 60 to 90 minutes. Patients can return to their normal daily
activities immediately with little or no scarring.
There are two types of core needle biopsy. The difference between the two
is the way in which the abnormality is located to precisely direct the
needle, either with X-rays or ultrasound. Breast tissue varies a great
deal and your physician will choose the method that will provide the best
image for directing the needle. The two methods are:
Stereotactic Breast Biopsy – This is often used when abnormalities are seen, but not felt. Two X-ray
images of breast tissue are taken at different angles to find the abnormality
and calculate its precise location. The computer guides the physician
in placing a hollow needle precisely into the abnormality.
Ultrasound Guided Breast Biopsy – Ultrasound guidance is often chosen when the original findings from an
ultrasound and when the best tissue visualization would indicate a need
for ultrasound. This procedure uses the same biopsy technique as Stereotactic.
Wire-guided with Surgical Biopsy
Sometimes, when an abnormality is found, the patient or her doctor may
decide it is best to remove the entire abnormality as soon as possible
rather than taking a small sample and waiting for results. This is commonly
done as an outpatient surgical procedure. First, mammogram or ultrasound
equipment is used to pinpoint the abnormality. Next, with the help of
a local anesthetic, a very thin wire is inserted into the abnormality.
This wire is used to guide a surgeon to the exact location of the abnormality,
so that it can be completely removed.
What If The Abnormality Is Found To Be Cancer?
Cancer Services are fully accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College
of Surgeons, and has a wealth of treatment options and support. We will
provide you with dedicated care and guide you through every stage of treatment.
For more Diagnostic Imaging information, please contact our
Cameron Park location.