Imaging & Follow-up Care

Abnormal Screening Mammogram

Having an abnormal mammogram or needing diagnostic testing does not mean that you have breast cancer. Further diagnostic testing and additional mammography projections allow radiologists different ways of determining each patients particular need and situation.  

Diagnostic mammograms

Used to evaluate women who have an abnormal screening mammogram, a history of breast abnormality, or a specific breast symptom such as:

  • Lumps
  • Pain
  • A change in skin color or texture
  • A change in size or shape of the breast
  • Nipple discharge or inversion
  • A personal history of breast cancer
  • A personal history of benign breast disease diagnosed by a biopsy, or a previous suspicious breast mass or lump
  • Large, augmented, or implanted breasts that are difficult to examine

You will receive diagnostic results on the same day. If something abnormal shows up on your diagnostic mammogram, you may also need one of the following imaging tests:


This test uses high-frequency sound waves, not heard by humans, to provide images of body tissues. The sound waves enter the breast and bounce back. The pattern of their echoes produces a picture called a sonogram, which is displayed on a screen.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

An MRI is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. A contrast-enhanced MRI of the breasts has been shown to have a high sensitivity for detecting breast cancer in women both with or without symptoms.
Indications for a Breast MRI:

  • Greater than a 20% lifetime risk of breast cancer
  • Strong family history
  • BRCA 1, 2 carrier
  • History of chest radiation
  • Staging the disease in patients with recent breast cancer diagnosis as well as screening the contralateral breast
  • Patients with breast implants
  • Follow-up cancer after chemotherapy

Image-Guided Biopsy

If imaging shows an area that requires further evaluation, the doctor may need to look for cancer cells. The procedure is called a biopsy. It can be done using a needle to get a piece of the abnormal tissue, or it can be done with surgery to completely remove the tissue.

Image-guided biopsies may be done under local or general anesthesia. Local anesthesia means drugs are used to numb the area of the breast that the needle will be put into. General anesthesia means you will be given drugs to put you into a deep sleep while the biopsy is being done. There are several types of breast biopsy procedures. The type of biopsy done will depend on the nature of the breast abnormality.

Breast Density: How it can affect your mammogram

Breast Density is a measure of the amount of breast tissue a woman has. The more tissue, the greater the density and the risk of breast cancer may get higher. However, in women with dense breast tissue, mammograms are not as effective in detecting the cancer as in women with fatty breast tissue. This is because both breast tissue and breast cancer will appear white on a mammogram and the lack of contrast makes identification of the cancer more difficult.

If you have dense breast, you may benefit from the other screening modalities such as ultrasound or MRI. 

For more information or to make a mammogram appointment call 312.413.4900.