Your phone rings, and it’s a number you don’t recognize. When you answer, the voice on the other end, though friendly, stops you in your tracks.
You just got what’s called a “call back” – a call to come back for an additional mammogram or other breast screening, such as an MRI or ultrasound. Getting a call back is no reason to panic, and it doesn’t mean you have cancer. There are many reasons why you might get one, including:
- The radiologist saw an abnormality on the mammogram and would like additional views. An abnormality could be a benign (non-cancerous) breast condition Keep in mind, follow-up tests could show that there’s no abnormality at all.
- Your breast tissue is dense (which is normal!) and the radiologist needs more images.
- Remember, if you do have breast cancer, know that when detected early (which is why you had an annual mammogram in the first place!), more than 95 percent of breast cancer cases are treated successfully.
Even though only about 10 percent of women get call backs, technology is evolving to reduce call backs even further. Woman’s now offers 3D mammograms; with this technology, 2D images are layered to create a clear, precise three-dimensional view. This allows radiologists to not only pinpoint abnormalities with greater accuracy, but to determine if the breast tissue is actually normal without an additional screening.
A December 2013 study found that 3D mammograms had 15.6 percent fewer false positives than 2D mammograms; this means fewer call backs for additional screenings. 3D mammograms may also find cancers that hide in dense breast tissue, resulting in fewer false negative studies.
Kudos for getting your annual screening mammogram in the first place. And if you do happen to get a call back, remember that the voice on the other end of the line is there for you.