I Got a Mammogram Callback
I Got Called Back. Now What?
You may receive a call following your annual mammogram results asking you to come in for additional imaging – this is commonly referred to as a “call back.” You may have mammogram call-back anxiety, but that’s completely normal. Remember that a call back doesn’t mean that you have breast cancer or even an abnormal mammogram —it just means that the radiologist reading your mammogram needs more information. In fact, fewer than 1 in 10 women called back for more tests or additional screening are found to have45.
Why am I Being Called Back?
There are many mammogram call-back reasons. Sometimes, the images taken during your first mammogram are not clear enough or require additional compression and need to be retaken. This could happen, especially, if you have dense breast tissue. Other times, your annual mammogram may show a suspicious area, and your doctor may want to get a closer look to determine if the area is of concern.
Remember that whatever you’re feeling–fear, anxiety or nervousness – is normal. Talking to your health care professional before your follow-up exam can help you to take control of the situation.
What Happens during a Call Back exam?
You will likely receive a diagnostic mammogram, which means that the area of your breast will be more closely examined. The diagnostic mammogram might take longer than your first mammogram, as the technologists typically take more images of your breasts to view the suspicious area better. The technologist may also use paddles that appear different from those used in the initial mammogram, in order to capture a better image.
You may also need an ultrasound or have an ultrasound exam instead of a mammogram. For this exam, a technologist will use a hand-held device, called a transducer, on your breast. The ultrasound is typically used to check a specific section of your breast that your doctor thinks may be hard to see on a mammogram.
Your doctor may also order an MRI scan or a Contrast Enhanced Mammogram (CEM), if they believe that would help to view the area. While the MRI machine is known for making loud noises, the exam itself is painless. If you undergo a CEM, the doctor will inject a small amount of contrast and use a mammogram to evaluate the breasts in more detail. CEM produces imaging results similar to an MRI.
What Happens Next?
Your doctor will review the images taken during your call back. From there, your doctor will decide what the next steps are, which may include another diagnostic exam or a breast biopsy.
A call back can be frightening but looking at the area of concern more closely is better than waiting for your next mammogram and potentially letting the area of concern develop into something that could be worse. Discussing any concerns with your doctor or loved ones can help you feel better about your call back.