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Understanding Your Mammogram Results

How will I know the result of my mammogram?

The Screening Program for Breast Cancer (SPBC) will notify you and your doctor whether your mammogram was normal or whether you need a follow-up test.

What if my screening result is normal?

If the result of your mammogram is normal, you can return to the SPBC for a mammogram in two years. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you will be asked to return in one year. The SPBC will send you a letter when it’s time to make your appointment.

What if my screening result is abnormal?

If the result of your mammogram is abnormal, you will receive a phone call from your doctor or nurse practitioner or from the SPBC’s client navigator. The client navigator is a registered nurse who will provide you with support and information about your result and the recommended follow-up tests. With your doctor or nurse practitioner’s permission, the client navigator will also arrange for your follow-up appointments.

Most abnormal mammogram results are due to changes in the breast that are not cancer. Nine out of 10 women who require follow-up tests do not have cancer.

What follow-up tests will I need to have?

You may have:
- a diagnostic mammogram, which is an x-ray that uses special views to see breast tissue more clearly
- an ultrasound, which uses sound waves to determine between a cyst and other breast tissue

Your doctor or nurse practitioner will also do a clinical breast examination.

What if the follow-up test is abnormal?

Some women may need a further follow-up test called a biopsy, which removes breast tissue for testing. There are three main types of biopsies:
- An ultrasound or stereotactic core biopsy uses a needle to remove breast tissue.
- A surgical biopsy removes breast tissue in the operating room or in a clinic.
- A fine needle aspiration uses a very thin needle to remove fluid or cells.

How will I know the results of my follow-up tests?

Your doctor or nurse practitioner will receive the results of your follow-up tests and help to arrange further care if it is needed.

What if my follow-up tests are normal?

If the results of your follow-up tests are normal, you can return to the SPBC for regular screening mammograms. The SPBC will send you a letter when it’s time to make your appointment.

Can all breast cancers be seen on a mammogram?

A small number of breast cancers are not seen on a mammogram. Therefore, in addition to having regular screening mammograms, it is important to:
- know how your breasts normally look and feel
- contact your doctor if you notice any changes in your breasts

Click here to download a copy of the brochure Understanding Your Mammogram Results.

For more information about your mammogram result, please contact your doctor, nurse practitioner or an SPBC client navigator toll-free at 1-855-584-8228.

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