Topic: BI-RADS Explained

Forum: Not Diagnosed But Worried — For those who are experiencing symptoms or received concerning test results, but haven't been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Posted on: Aug 25, 2017 08:01AM

Posted on: Aug 25, 2017 08:01AM

djmammo wrote:

from Cancer.Org

This is a nice explanation of the Birads scoring system: Click Here for the article.

When I first started reading mammograms in the early 80's there was really no official standard vocabulary for describing what was seen on a mammogram. Different readers would use different terms and it became confusing when 2 people read the same study, had the same recommendation but completely different verbiage in the body of the report. Birads was developed to standardize the conclusions of the reports so that no matter what the report said above the impression, the Birads would clear it all up. Over the years the system was improved by providing radiologists a list of acceptable terms to use in reports (the Birads Lexicon) so that all reports would be comparable and understood by all concerned.

Board Certified Diagnostic Radiologist specializing in Breast Imaging. Contact me at
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Mar 13, 2022 08:23PM krystinem wrote:

Hi Summerkeenan

I too was a birads5...was told 2 days later it was defintely cancer, then took about 2 weeks for pathology. I found out at that appointment that it was hormone postive and because of size, 21mm, I could have surgery next. Usually chemo first for larger tumours and inflammatory breast cancer. They removed lymphnodes during surgery. After that full pathology, I was told needed chemo and radiation.

It's a very confusing time, and life seems to stand still while waiting. But for most of us, once you have more answers and treatment is put in place, things start to settle a bit.

Surgery 6/18/2018 Lumpectomy (Right); Lymph node removal (Right): Sentinel Chemotherapy 8/15/2018 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 11/6/2018 Whole breast, Radiation boost: Right breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2019
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Mar 14, 2022 02:51AM moderators wrote:

Hi summerkeenan, and welcome to We know you're going through a scary and uncertain time, but just wanted to let you know that you are not alone! Read here for steps you can take to feel more in control of the process while you wait:

In addition, there is a thread on Abbreviations to help you follow discussions going on in the community.

Good luck!

The Mods

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Mar 14, 2022 03:51AM salamandra wrote:

Hi summerkeenan,

After my biopsy came back malignant (also after a birads 5), I was able to send it to the cancer center near me that I wanted to be treated at. They only take confirmed cancer patients. They called me after they received it and set me up with an appointment with a surgical oncologist. Like krystinem, the size and hormones of my cancer meant surgery first. The surgical oncology appointment was the thing that finally let me start breathing again. My understanding coming away from it was that this was a diagnosis that would turn my life upside down but only for a time, and that I had a very good chance at a normal lifespan (as a teenager, I had watched my mother die of breast cancer - I was very scared).

Still, there was a lot more waiting. Waiting for the surgical pathology, waiting for the oncotype, waiting to see my side effects from radiation and hormone treatment, etc. I would say that each stage of waiting was easier than the previous one. For me, the hardest time was between diagnosis and the first surgical oncology appointment (to be fair, I had no idea what my birads 5 meant and didn't get worried until the night before biopsy - for that one particular moment, ignorance was indeed bliss!)

For now, probably you should figure out where you'd wanted to be treated in the event it is confirmed to be cancer, and what you have to do to set up your initial appointment there (not all centers will make you wait for the diagnosis). Everything else is mental/emotional/psychological at this point. Get your coping mechanisms ready, your mental health/emotional support on deck, and settle in the ride!

Good luck! And remember that high likelihood of malignancy does NOT mean a higher stage or more dangerous form of cancer.

Dx at 39. 1.8cm. Oncotype 9. Dx 9/19/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/18/2018 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 12/3/2018 Whole breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/19/2019 Fareston (toremifene)

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