After having a routine mammogram on the NHS Breast Screening Programme, most women will receive a results letter about two weeks later. About 96 per cent of women have a normal result from their first mammogram and will be invited for screening again three years later. About four in every 100 women screened, though, are called back for further tests because of an abnormality seen on the mammogram (NHS Breast Screening leaflet May 2017).
Many of the women we spoke with said they had more mammograms when they were recalled, sometimes taken by the same radiographer who had taken the original one at the breast screening unit. Mammogram(s) taken at the assessment clinic may be at different angles or with magnification.
A doctor explains why more mammograms might be taken at the breast clinic.
Most women said that, at this stage, they didn’t feel particularly anxious. Several assumed they had moved when the x-rays were taken at the breast screening unit and that there must have been technical problems. A few women, though, felt daunted by needing another mammogram because they found them painful. One of these women, who was extremely worried when recalled for further tests, felt that the d‚àö¬©cor of the x-ray room should be more calming and ‘less clinical’ because women were often very anxious at this time. More experiences of having mammograms can be found on the Healthtalk Breast Screening site.
Some women said the doctor showed them their original x-ray and the areas that were causing concern. A few were shown the x-ray they’d had taken three years earlier and how it compared to the most recent one. Several women noted that the doctor used words such as calcifications, micro-calcifications, calcium deposits and chalk when explaining what was causing concern.
Carol was shown an area of micro-calcifications and told that those cells were precancerous.
Breast calcifications are small areas of calcium in the breast. They cannot be felt and can only be detected on a mammogram. Calcifications are very common and, in most cases, harmless. There are two types, macro-calcifications and micro-calcifications.
A doctor explains what calcifications are.
A doctor discusses what a normal breast x-ray looks like.
A doctor talks about breast x-rays that show abnormal calcifications.
A doctor talks about breast x-rays that show invasive breast cancer.
One woman said that, when she had a mammogram at recall, she suspected she might have DCIS because her mother had been diagnosed with it several years earlier. Another was asked to come back for another mammogram in six months’ time because the doctor was concerned that there could be a problem developing.