If there is a abnormality detected your Doctor may schedule you for a follow-up imaging test. There are several options that your Doctor can choose from:
- Additional images taken at different angles on a conventional mammography machine
- Breast ultrasound, to evaluate questionable areas such as suspected cysts identified during screening mammogram
- Special mammography views, which may include magnification views or focal/spot compression views to evaluate a small area of breast tissue
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Magnification views use a small magnification table that brings the breast closer to the x-ray source to capture zoomed in images of the site of interest. This enables doctors in clearer assessment of the borders and the tissue structures of a suspicious site or a mass to evaluate micro-calcifications, tiny spot of calcium in the breast that may be a sign of a small cancer.
Spot Compression Mammogram
Don't be alarmed by the name, it is not as bad as it sounds. It is simply a test that focuses in on the small area that was suspicious in the first mammogram. During the test, the physician applies compression to a smaller area of tissue using a small compression plate or cone. This is done to increase the effective pressure on that spot. This results in better tissue separation thereby allowing better visualization of the small site in question. Spot compression mammogram allows doctors to capture better images as compared to standard mammography techniques. Any abnormality in the breast can be seen more prominently on compression views
Just like the more familiar prenatal ultrasound a breast ultrasound works with the same technology. Ultrasound testing works by transmitting high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear, through the breast. The sound waves bounce off surfaces in the breast (tissue, air, fluid) and these "echoes" are recorded and transformed into video or photographic images
This procedure may be used to determine whether a lump is a cyst (sac containing fluid) or a solid mass which could be cancer. If it is found to be a cyst, fluid is typically withdrawn from it using a needle and syringe (a process called aspiration). If clear fluid is removed and the mass completely disappears, no further treatment or evaluation is needed.
Ultrasound can also be used to precisely locate the position of a known tumor in order to guide the doctor during a biopsy or aspiration procedure. Ultrasound helps confirm correct needle placement.