While callbacks after a screening mammogram are relatively uncommon, they do happen. The American Cancer Society estimates that 10 percent of women who undergo the procedure will receive a callback for further testing. Less than 10 percent of that group will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of the time callbacks are nothing to worry about, so don’t panic.

Common reasons for callbacks after a mammogram:

  • Cysts
  • Dense breast tissue
  • Benign (non-cancerous) tumors
  • Image needs to be retaken
  • First mammogram (doctor has no prior images to compare it to)

What to expect at your follow up appointment:

Your follow up appointment will generally include a diagnostic mammogram. The process is almost identical to a screening mammogram (your initial procedure), except that more images are taken so your doctor can closely examine any abnormalities.

In addition to a diagnostic mammogram, your physician may also prescribe an ultrasound. A breast ultrasound, also called a sonogram, is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses sound waves to create digital images of breast tissue. The procedure is quick, painless, and safe for everyone—even pregnant women—as there is no exposure to radiation. It is commonly used in women with dense breast tissue.

Most likely outcomes of your follow up appointment:

  • Everything is fine and the suspicious area turned out to be nothing to worry about.
  • Everything seems fine now, but your doctor wants to monitor the abnormal area for changes. Your next mammogram will be in 4 to 6 months.
  • Breast cancer has not been ruled out. Discuss results with your physician.