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What happens if you receive an abnormal mammogram?

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Quick Answer

After an abnormality is found on a mammogram, the patient usually undergoes further testing, including a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound, according to WebMD. Sometimes a magnetic resonance imaging test is required. These tests give doctors a better view of the suspicious area.

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Full Answer

Abnormal mammograms occur about 10 percent of the time, WebMD states. Of those cases, only eight to 10 percent of women require a biopsy, and 80 percent of biopsies are benign.

A diagnostic mammogram is similar to a regular mammogram, WebMD explains. The difference is that the technician attempts to get a more accurate view of the suspicious area with magnification or by taking more images from different angles. This procedure typically takes longer than a traditional mammogram.

The ultrasound gives the doctor a different view of the abnormality, WebMD says. The procedure is often used when a mass can be felt but cannot be seen on an X-ray. The ultrasound involves a technician applying gel to the breast and moving a transducer, a microphone-shaped instrument, on the breast.

A doctor sometimes orders an MRI as well, WebMD states. This usually occurs when the doctor cannot evaluate the suspicious area with a diagnostic mammogram or an ultrasound.

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