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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Cancer and Mammogram Results

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How Does a Questionable Area Appear on a Mammogram?

  • A lump or mass with a smooth, well-defined border usually isn’t cancerous. An ultrasound can look inside the lump. If it’s filled with fluid, it’s called a cyst, and it’s usually not cancer, but your doctor might recommend a biopsy.
  • A lump that has an irregular border or a star-burst appearance raises more concern. A biopsy is usually recommended.
  • Deposits of calcium (calcifications) can be large or small, and they might or might not be cancerous. If the deposits are very small, you may need more tests and a biopsy.


How Well Do Mammograms Work?

These imaging tests help doctors diagnose about 75% to 85% of breast cancers. They can spot potential problems before they're large enough to be felt. Detection rates improve as a woman ages, because breasts become less dense with age. This makes tissue easier to see through on mammograms. 

Advancing technology raise detection rates. Three-dimensional mammography isn’t yet widely available or used. But one study showed that using 3-D mammography along with digital mammograms improved detection rates and lowered the number of women who had to return for more tests because of a suspicious finding.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 10, 2015
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