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Focal Asymmetry

beth3782 Member Posts: 1
edited March 2023 in Not Diagnosed But Worried


I recently received my first mammogram at 41 years old. I was called back because they found an area of focal asymmetry in my left central posterior breast. I am very concerned, as my maternal grandmother had breast cancer in her 30’s.
Any words of wisdom or advice is great appreciated. Thank you.


  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited March 2023

    Focal asymmetry basically means that there is a smudgy spot on your mammogram, and one breast image does not look like the other (so it's asymmetrical). They're calling you back to get more views, probably using spot compression (a tighter look at the more specific area) to see if there is really something there, or if it is a figment caused by some of your tissue folding onto itself, or other imaging irregularity. They might also do an ultrasound, if the diagnostic mammogram isn't completely clear. Since it was your first mammogram, they don't have anything else to compare it to. It is completely understandable that you're concerned, but the probability of it being cancer is pretty low. If they don't find something definitive, likely they'll want you to come back in 6 months for another look. (If they don't suggest it, you should.) At that point, there will be more information (your images from now to compare to) and you'll probably be sent on your way to come back in another year.

    If it is cancer, (again, not very likely statistically), then you'll get through it one step at a time. Treatment today is dramatically better than it was when your grandma was in her 30s.

    Let us know what you find out.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
    edited March 2023

    Breast cancer screening is very cautious - or at least it's supposed to be. The threshold for recommending a biopsy is that if the radiologist is only 97% sure it's not cancer, a biopsy should be run. We live in a time when, if we are lucky and have health insurance and access to health care, doctors have the tools and the incentive to escalate screening for even very low risk cases.

    The benefit is that cases are caught that might otherwise be missed, and the harm is that lots of women go through lot of scares that turn out to be nothing.

    This could be cancer, but much more likely it's not. I guess there are lots of women in your family, friends, and work circle, who have been on this roller coaster ride, and I wish it were something we talked about more freely. I really think it would help us feel less scared to hear all the stories of scary callbacks that turned out to be nothing. I would encourage you talk to women you know. I bet you will find many hopeful stories - both of scares that turned out benign and of women whom you may never have guessed had cancer and are now running around living their lives perfectly fine most of the time.