For most women, the results of a mammogram will be good news. The mammogram will show no signs of breast cancer.
If your mammogram does show something abnormal, you will need follow-up tests to check whether or not the finding is breast cancer.
Take heart that most abnormal findings on a mammogram are not breast cancer. Sometimes follow-up tests show something less serious like a benign breast condition. And, sometimes they show the breast tissue is normal.
Learn more about benign breast conditions.
Follow-up most often begins with the least invasive tests (such as a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound). If needed, you will have more invasive tests (such as a biopsy).
A radiologist will look at the images from a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound and decide whether the abnormal finding is suspicious. If the finding does not look like cancer (for example, it is a cyst), further testing may not be needed. In some cases, you may have a repeat mammogram and/or your health care provider may request other tests such as ultrasound or breast MRI.
If the finding looks suspicious or likely to be breast cancer, the next step is a biopsy to remove some of the abnormal tissue to check for cancer. If the findings are benign (not cancer), you return to your regular schedule of screening with clinical breast exams and mammograms.
Learn more about mammography results, including the Breast Imaging and Reporting Data System (BI-RADS®).
Learn more about biopsies and breast cancer diagnosis.
Learn more about breast cancer screening recommendations for women at average risk.
Learn more about breast cancer screening recommendations for women at higher risk.