The Breast Center recommends annual mammograms for average risk women beginning at age 40. Usually, you have an appointment with The Breast Center, have your mammogram, receive a normal test, and forget about it for another year. In about 10% of cases, however, women will have mammogram callbacks.
A mammogram callback means that The Breast Center calls you back or asks you to come back to have some additional testing done. Nationally, just 0.5% of callbacks result in a cancer diagnosis. So a callback is typically not a cause for alarm. Your doctor just wants to be sure that you are not one of that small fraction of women.
What causes mammogram callbacks?
Certain factors make being called back more likely.
If you have never had a mammogram before or have not had one in many years, you don’t yet have a baseline to compare with new mammograms. So side-to-side differences within your tissue many need more evaluation.
Callbacks are also more common for women who have not yet experienced menopause due to a higher likelihood of dense breast tissue, benign masses, and benign fibrocystic change.
In every case, though, there is something about the mammogram appearance that makes the doctor want to look more closely.
What happens at a mammogram callback?
You may have a diagnostic mammogram and/or ultrasound. You will be provided with your results during your visit, rather than sending you home to wait for a letter or phone call.
You may be asked to come back after six months rather than a year to re-check the area of interest. A biopsy is suggested in 1-2% of callback cases. Most women who need these extra measures will receive results that do not show cancer.
The object is to identify breast cancer early when treatment is most likely to be successful if necessary.
A mammogram callback can be stressful or even frightening, but it actually is a sign of thorough screening and attention to detail. Now that you understand the callback process, schedule your annual screening appointment as soon as possible. Here’s to your health!