Not every lump or mammographic change merits a
biopsy. Nearly all mammographic masses that look smooth and clearly
outlined, for instance, are benign. Your physician needs to
thoughtfully weigh the findings from your physical examination and
mammogram along with your background and your medical history in
forming her or his recommendation.
Although benign lumps
turn into cancer, cancerous
lumps can develop near benign lumps and can be hidden on a
mammogram. Even if you have had a benign lump removed in the past,
you cannot be sure any new lump is also benign.
In some instances the doctor may suggest watching the suspicious
area for a month or two. Because many lumps are caused by normal
hormonal changes, this waiting period may provide additional
Similarly, if the changes on your mammogram show all the
hallmarks of benign disease, your doctor may advise waiting a few
months and then taking another mammogram, to be followed by
additional mammograms over the next 3 years. If you choose this
option, however, you must be strongly committed to regular
If you feel uncomfortable about waiting, express your concerns
to your doctor. You may also want to get a second opinion, perhaps
from a breast specialist or surgeon. Many cities have breast
clinics where you can get a second opinion.