What Does your Doctor Look For in a Mammogram?
Mammograms are read by radiologists. Radiologists are doctors who are specifically trained in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries by using imaging techniques such as x-rays.
There are different types of signs your doctor will look for while looking at your mammogram:
Calcifications are mineral deposits that look like white spots on a mammogram. There are two types of calcifications:
- Macrocalcifications- large, coarse calcium deposits usually caused by aging breast arteries, injuries, or inflammation. Macrocalcifications are related to benign conditions and usually do not require a biopsy. Such deposits are commonly found in women over 50 years old.
- Microcalcifications- small calcium deposits in the breast. Doctors are more suspicious of microcalcifications; however, that does not mean that they are always cancerous. In some cases a biopsy is needed to determine if cancer is present.
A mass is a region in breast tissue that looks abnormal. Masses can be caused by a number of things such as cysts or solid masses:
- Simple Cysts- fluid-filled sacs are benign and do not need to be biopsied. Sometimes an ultrasound or a needle aspiration is needed to determine if the mass is a simple cyst or a solid mass.
- Tumor- solid masses which cause more concern and are usually watched with regular mammograms, ultrasounds, or tested with biopsies.
Breast Density- is based on how the different types of tissue in your breast are distributed. Dense breasts are not always abnormal, but it may be linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Dense breasts can make it more difficult to see abnormal spots in mammograms, sometimes additional tests may be needed to determine if a woman is at risk for having or developing breast cancer.