Could Scar Tissue From A Breast Reduction Cause A Mammogram To Be Inconclusive?

Question

Asked by JC

Could Scar Tissue From A Breast Reduction Cause A Mammogram To Be Inconclusive?

I had a breast reduction in 1998. My sister had breast cancer and has been cancer free after chemo, radiation, etc. for 2 years now. No other family history of breast cancer; but of ovarian cancer with my aunt who didn't survive. I had a mammogram done 4 days ago. I had not found any suspicious areas in my breast (possibly because of failure to do proper breast exams) I only requested a mammogram from the doc when I got my pap smear because I had not had insurance for 3 years until now and I wanted to get a complete check up. Also, due to the history with my sister's breast cancer I figured I should have one done. The doc did order the mammogram. I received a call this morning that the test was inconclusive and that I needed to return for another mammogram while a radiologist is present. I am very concerned because I know that it is not normal or necessary for a radiologist to be on site for a mammogram (repeat mammogram at this point). I guess my question is this. Could the breast reduction that I had 11 years ago alter the results of that 1st mammogram I took? I did give them the information on the breast reduction surgery when I filled out my history. So, wouldn't they already factor this into the results? I am really anxious. I have to wait two weeks before I see the radiologist for the repeat exam.

Answer

Hi - One key question is, was this your first mammogram? Many women get callbacks after their first mammogram, as there's nothing previous to compare it to, and areas of your breast - including scar tissue - can look "suspicious" but turn out to be just something natural to you.

If this isn't your mfirst mammogram, and they're comparing it to previous ones, then I'd say you'd have more to worry about. Because if that's the case, they

would have already identified any scar tissue, and would know what it looks like.

With your family history, it's good to be diligent; I'm glad you decided to get a mammogram. But also, with the current uproar over screening guidelines, you've probably heard that the inaccuracy rate for screening mammograms is quite high. Over the course of 10 years' worth of mammograms, up to about half of women will get a callback for further views. And maybe a third will actually get biopsies, the vast majority of which are negative. It's an imperfect process, for sure.

It's natural to worry, and it's hard to wait. But given your possible scar tissue; the possibility this is a baseline (first) mammogram, with nothing to compare it to; the imperfect process itself; and the fact you're waiting 2 weeks for another mammogram (wouldn't you think if they were sure it was cancer, they'd have you right back immediately?); I'd say chances are this is simply a double-check. If by chance, however, they DO identify cancer, come on back here. We can help. There are millions of us breast cancer survivors (including your sister) out here, going on with our lives; living beyond cancer. Good luck - PJH