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Understanding Mammogram Results

Mammogram results are grouped into six categories, based on the likelihood of the findings being cancerous.

So you've taken a step towards preventative health care and had a mammogram. That's great! Now comes the tough part: waiting for results. As you ponder all the possibilities, here are some thing to know that will help you understand the mammogram results:

Findings
Doctors categorize the results of a mammogram into six groupings based on the potential of whether or not the patient may have cancer. 

Category 1: Negative: The findings were normal. There are no lumps, calcifications or distorted structures.

Category 2: Benign (non-cancerous) finding: The results may have included calcifications or other abnormalities, but the doctor was not suspicious that they were or would become cancerous. No further testing is needed.

Category 3: Probably benign: If your radiologist sees something abnormal and recommends testing, he or she may label your mammogram a category three result. According to The American Cancer Society, there is more than a 98 percent chance that this will not become cancer, but you may be asked to return for follow-up imaging in several months to keep an eye on the area and ensure that you are healthy.

Category 4: Suspicious abnormality: The radiologist has seen the imaging and thinks it is possible that the breast abnormalities could be cancerous. This does not mean you for sure have cancer. Instead, a biopsy is often recommended in order to ascertain if cancer is present.

Category 5: Highly suggestive of malignancy: This means it is very likely the findings are cancerous. Results in this category have a 95 percent chance of being cancer, so a biopsy is strongly recommended.

Category 6: Known biopsy-proven malignancy When someone has already been diagnosed with cancer via a biopsy and has a mammogram, his or her results are considered category six. These tests are often given to see how well treatment is working to kill the cancerous tissues. 

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