Hi, I'm 57 yrs. old. Had annual screening mammo last Friday. Was called on Monday and told they want to do a diagnostic mammo due to a new area of calcifications seen since last mammo in 2008. In 2006, I had same thing happen, went back for diagnostic mammo and all was fine, no biopsy needed. They followed up in 6 months with another diagnostic mammo and then I was back to yearly screenings in 2007, 2008 and 2009 which all came out fine.
My ob/gyn read the latest report on me and he was not at all concerned about the call-back. He said call-backs are quite common, particularly with calcifications in post-menopausal women. He said development of calcifications increases with age with up to 86% of women over 75 having them show up in mammos. After reading the initial report, he kept repeating "DO NOT WORRY." He's a very thorough and excellent doctor, so his comments made me feel better. He told me the same thing in 2006 and he turned out to be right.
Here's my question - Are diagnostic mammos usually done whenever calcifications are seen just to differentiate the type? Why not just do a biopsy? My doc said the diagnostic mammo followup is routine and is the best way to differentiate between benign calcifications and those that may signal a malignancy. Is this what others have heard too?
I've read where some women are called back year after year for this reason and I'd hate to go through that.
I read stats that said out of 1,000 women who have annual screening mammos, 10% (or 100) will need diagnostic mammos. Of this 10% (or 100), 8 to 10% will need biopsies (or 8 to 10 women). Of the 8 to 10 women needing biopsies, 70 to 80% receive benign findings, the end result being that between 2 and 3 of the total of 1,000 women will actually be diagnosed with cancer in the end. Gives me more peace of mind. Of course, no one wants to be among those 2 or 3 women.
Good news on my diagnostic mammo done today. Everything looked fine. They also did an ultrasound just to be sure. Radiologist even came in, after the tech was done, and scanned himself. He said everything looked good and there were no masses, just calcifications. Then, he said "Actually the calcifications haven't changed very much since your annual mammo in 2009."
Well, I felt like asking - then why was I asked to come back for a diagnostic mammo? But I didn't. Was just grateful for the good results.
He did tell me that call backs are quite common and between 80 to 90% of them get favorable results. He also said calcifications are a lot more common than most women realize. They may be noted on one's mammo results, even if they aren't discussed with the patient. That's because what was seen is not of concern. He said they definitely increase in number as you age, particularly after you go through menopause.
They want me to go back in 6 months to recheck that all is still stable. So, breathing a great sigh of relief after 2 days of anxiety.