Understanding Mammograms

When interpreting findings from a mammogram, the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) is used to categorize the results on a scale from 0 to 6:

  1. There may have been an abnormality that was seen, but it is not clear, and other tests are needed. The radiologist may also want to compare mammogram tests to possibly identify any changes over time
  2. A negative result, with nothing new or abnormal detected
  3. A benign finding, being noncancerous lymph nodes, masses, or calcifications in the breast. This also warrants that those who look at the mammogram in the future won’t mistake the benign result as suspicious
  4. A probably benign finding, with a very low chance that it is cancer (≤2%) and no expectation of change in the future. Repeat imaging is necessary in 6 to 12 months and regularly until the result is stable
  5. A suspicious finding that may or may not be cancer, and a biopsy is recommended. There is a large range of suspicion levels, so it is separated into categories 4A, 4B, and 4C
  6. At least a 95% chance of the findings being cancer with biopsy strongly recommended
  7. This is only used for findings that have already been shown to be cancer from a prior biopsy

Using BI-RADS makes communicating about the test findings and follow-up after tests easier, as the words and terms used to describe the results are alike. Mammograms also include an examination of breast density.


Understanding Your Mammogram Report. American Cancer Society. Updated January 14, 2022. Accessed April 26, 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/mammograms/understanding-your-mammogram-report.html

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