If you have recently had an abnormal mammogram result, or are considering having a scan for health reasons, then this article will help explain everything you need to know.
The most important thing to remember is that these results will help you and your doctor with moving forward with treatments and that not all abnormal results mean cancer.
What A Mammogram Machine Does
The main purpose of a mammogram machine is to look at breast tissue. It works by using lower doses of x-ray compared to traditional x-ray scans. The machine uses two plates that compress or flatten the breast so that the inner breast tissue can be more spread, to help narrow down any issues that could exist.
They are one of the most effective machines out there that can help detect breast cancer early, even before a lump appears. This makes it easier to treat, and the machines can come in different forms, from 2D traditional scans to more advanced digital 3D ones.
Non-Cancerous Causes Of Abnormal Results
It’s possible to have non-cancerous causes for your abnormal mammogram result. Many of these can be benign and harmless, but your healthcare professional may look into getting a follow-up if they detect something different.
For example, a microcalcification could be detected. These are essentially small deposits of calcium that can be flagged up in a scan, whilst not being a main cause of cancer. The most common breast lumps that could be scanned come in the form of a cyst. They are usually small and filled with fluid, that grows naturally and can often be associated with hormonal changes or age.
You could also find benign tumors, these are masses of non-cancerous tissue, which can also be a cyst. Dense breast tissue areas can also be an abnormal mammogram result, which can be linked to menopausal issues, as well as other non-cancer signs.
If you have received an abnormal mammogram result, then the important thing to do is not panic, and start taking productive steps. Your healthcare provider will likely give you instructions on what you will need to follow up, as abnormalities appear in mammogram results for a variety of reasons.
As you may be aware, there are different types of mammogram machines and scans you can engage with, with 3D mammograms often being more conclusive than 2D mammograms. That’s because 3D mammograms can help to find more cancers than their traditional 2D counterparts. They do this by taking 3D images from a variety of angles, to get a better idea of what is going on under dense breast tissue.
A radiologist, for this reason, would be able to take up to 300 pictures, compared to a mere four pictures of a regular 2D mammogram scan. Many women are eligible for a mammogram scan but don’t book them due to fear, embarrassment, or even convenience. Fortunately, there are more simple ways to book mammograms in the 21st century.
They can come in the form of private healthcare companies, that operate through a more centralized line of thinking. Rather than working on everything, they will specialize in certain key areas. The doctors and staff will also be highly trained, and will be able to tell you everything you need to know about an abnormal mammogram result in your life, and what your options are going forward.
Importance Of Speaking To Your Doctor
No matter what happens and what the result may be, it will benefit you to speak to a healthcare professional about your results. Even if your results have been explained to you on the day, there is likely to be further action that you can take. This could be in the form of more tests, or just consultants with experts to progress.
Your doctor will be able to help ease any anxieties coming up about your health, as well as reveal the unknown to you. These questions that get answered will help define your path and the journey you will take.
If you’re in doubt about what you’ve been told, then it could benefit you to seek a second opinion for your result, or get a new scan. The second set of eyes without any prior knowledge or potential bias could go a long way in helping to diagnose you, or at least ask your doctor some questions about what the other found.
Other Tests You Could Have
After any sort of mammogram result, you could be recommended further testing, especially for abnormal results. The most common of which is a breast ultrasound, which uses sound waves on a high frequency to look inside the breast, and looks for any benign cysts or a solid mass that has the potential to be cancerous. This type of test can also help your doctor or healthcare provider to find how well the blood flows in this area of your body.
You could also be asked to have a breast MRI. This is a powerful type of diagnostic tool that uses strong magnets to help create detailed images of the breast. It works similarly to X-ray machines and mammogram technology, apart from the fact it will use special equipment, such as dedicated breast coils, to help gather high-resolution images.
Alternatively, there is a breast biopsy. This is a less intrusive procedure than what It sounds like, but the basics of it are that a doctor will use a small needle to take a tiny portion of the breast tissue that is the cause for concern.
A doctor known as a pathologist will analyze the tissue to find if it’s cancerous in any way. They can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and a doctor will be able to advise the best cause of action.
These tests all help narrow down any issue that you may have. The majority of the tests you will take as a follow-up are likely to work in a similar way to your mammogram scan, even if it was 2D or 3D, so you don’t need to worry too much.