Understanding Your Mammography Report

 

 

Dr. Shelly Sharma

Oncoradiologist, Breast Radiologist

MBBS, DNB( Radiodiagnosis ). Observorship in Breast Imaging , Mayo Clinic, USA. Fellowship in Ultrasound guided Tumor ablation , Samsung Medical Centre, South Korea. Fellowship in onco radiology , National Cancer Centre, Singapore.

 

2 Minutes Read

 

Most women get anxious after getting their  mammography results and are unable to comprehend the language. The idea behind this article is to give you a clear overview of what a mammography report includes and steps to take after you get your mammography results.

The mammograms are read by a breast radiologist, who reports the findings under various subcategories.

Breast Density – Based on how much proportion of fibroglandular and fatty tissues are present in the breasts on mammograms, the breast density is assigned. The breast density is a measure of how well a radiologist can pick up an abnormality on mammogram. Sometimes breasts may be extremely dense, that is, these are composed predominantly of fibroglandular tissues then it becomes difficult for the radiologist to pick up an underlying mass ( which appears white) from the fibroglandular tissues ( also appears white).

Impression- This part of the report sums up the findings and radiologist assigns a BIRADS ( Breast imaging and Data System) category. BIRADS is the common language spoken and understood by breast doctors all over the globe. It is a standardized reporting format, where in based on degree of suspicion of a malignancy, the findings are assigned BIRADS category. It can range from

 

                0Incomplete/ Additional Imaging is required. This means the radiologist is not clear of findings on mammogram and needs further action which may be in form of another investigation or comparison with previous imaging.
                1Negative mammogram. This means your breasts appear normal on mammogram. The radiologist did not find anything suspicious on mammogram.
                2Benign or non-cancerous findings. This category essentially means negative mammogram. There may be certain changes in your breasts which are seen and do not suggest cancer. Radiologist may record these findings for future comparisons.
               3Probably benign. These findings have > 98% chance of being benign/ non-cancerous. The radiologist does not expect them to change over time. However, a follow-up examination is suggested in such cases for up to 2 years to ensure benignity.
               4Suspicious abnormality, biopsy should be considered. These are abnormalities which are not clearly suggestive of cancer. however cancer cannot be completely ruled out and so a biopsy is suggested to confirm the nature ( benign/ malignant)
               5Highly suggestive of malignancy. Findings look malignant and there are > 95 % chance of malignancy. Biopsy and appropriate action is recommended.
                6Known malignancy. The cancer is already proven and the mammogram is done for reasons like assessment of response to treatment

 

Recommendations– The radiologist may suggest a follow up examination or a biopsy of a suspicious abnormality. Further tests may be suggested.

Comparison – In case previous reports are submitted, a comparison with previous reports is included, the table has to be inserted in the text in first file and will come after.

BIRADS is the common language spoken and understood by breast doctors all over the globe. It is a standardized reporting format, where in based on degree of suspicion of a malignancy, the findings are assigned BIRADS category.

This information is for general guidance and reflects the opinions and experience of the author. It is not intended to replace specialist consultation or provide treatment advice for specific cases.

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