Why is there a need for several follow-up tests after a mammogram?

Doctor's Answers (1)

A mammography is usually used as a screening tool to evaluate breast lesions. The mammogram is currently the most reliable screening tool for breast cancer. It can detect the presence of cancerous lumps even before they can be felt with the hand.

There are other tests such as breast ultrasound, tomosynthesis and MRI, available for assessment of the breasts. These are not used for regular screening in well women and are used for further evaluation after initial screening mammogram, but may be considered for women with high risk of breast cancer after the initial mammogram. In many instances, a biopsy is also further required to extract some breast tissue.

This breast tissue is closely examined by pathologists to determine the presence of breast cancer and other lesions. Further immunohistochemistry may also be performed to characterise the type of breast cancer and its behaviour.

Once all the radiological and pathology test information are ascertained, it gives the clinical and surgical team a greater degree of confidence to prescribe the necessary management to fight the cancer. This is akin to preparing a battle plan and studying the strengths and weaknesses of an invading enemy. Please do consult a breast surgeon or a GP with interest in pathology, if you do have further questions about the diagnosis and management of breast pathology.

Best regards

Dr Jipson Quah

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