As a continuation of our prior posts this week on BI-RADS 1
& BI-RADS 2
, today we’d like to talk about BI-RADS
category 3. Remember that BI-RADS stands for Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System, which is a tool developed by the American College of Radiology
to simplify breast imaging reports and their recommendations. It breaks results down into seven possible categories, from Zero to Six
. So, on to BIRADS 3 – probable benign findings, short term follow-up recommended.
A final result of BI-RADS category 3 on your breast imaging report says that there are findings present apart from normal tissue that the radiologist considers probably benign
. The chances of findings put in this category being a cancer are extremely low, less than 1-2%!
In this category, your radiologist sees something other than normal tissue within your breasts. They can be certain patterns of microcalcifications, cysts or abnormal perhaps asymmetric density of breast tissues. As always, comparison with prior exams is invaluable. Category 3 findings and short term follow-up occur most often when comparison studies aren’t available.
How do you get prior studies? If you call before you go in for your mammogram, you can arrange for your previous clinic to share your old studies so that they are available the day of your exam. Otherwise, your current mammography facility can call for the prior exams with comparison occurring when they arrive. Either way, make sure you find the mammography facility that is right for you – a place that is prompt, comfortable and respectful. You have a choice when it comes to where you go for care, and choosing what is right for you is another great way of taking care of your body – feeling good about that is good for you too!
With a category 3 BI-RADS result, short term usually 6 month follow-up imaging is required to confirm the nature of the findings. Follow-up imaging can include: mammogram
, breast ultrasound
and/or breast MRI
. To prove a finding as benign, radiologists generally like to see something unchanged for a total of 2 years.
Below you will find examples of category 3 images from three different people – a breast ultrasound
, a breast MRI
and a mammogram. Ultrasounds are most commonly used to track solid masses or cysts that aren’t just simple fluid. MRIs may be done to track changes and confirm stability of probably benign MRI changes, either nodular areas or areas of questionable blood flow, again every 6 months for 2 years. A diagnostic mammogram
at 6 months may be used to track areas of asymmetry when comparison studies are not available. Mammograms are also used for double-checking calcifications
that are most likely benign.
We hope that you are developing an understanding of what BI-RADS means for you and your breast health. Tomorrow: categories 4 & 5.
Originally published 7/11/13 on mammographykc.com.