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Women - Take Charge of Your Health; Breast Cancer and Dense Breast Tissue

Updated on October 13, 2014

Early Detection Does Save Lives

This hub is dedicated to all women. Ladies, please get your mammograms as ordered by your primary care provider. Early detection really does save lives. February 1, 2013 will be a day to remember. It was the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I received a call the previous week at work from my primary care provider’s secretary saying that I had to come to their office right away to see my doctor, I knew in my heart the news wasn't going to be good. This hub will be the first in a serious dedicated to breast cancer, which will include hubs about ways to prevent it and how to stay healthy and positive during chemotherapy. I had six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiation therapy, now I'm cancer free and want to encourage women to never take their breast health for granted. If you have dense breast tissue, you need to take extra precautions and ask your doctor about having an ultrasound in addition to your mammogram.

Take Every Precaution to Prevent Breast Cancer

How in the world could I get breast cancer? I don’t smoke, don’t drink and have always been very conscious of my health. I was considered a “health nut” by many starting at age 14 when I was in my freshman year of high school; and I am a registered nurse for goodness sake. I had a wonderful nutrition teacher in high school, whose name was Mrs. Thompson, she was the one who got me hooked on eating healthy, staying positive and reaching for the stars. I still chuckle at how my mother and sister used to get so tired of me saying “Mrs. Thompson said you shouldn’t eat this or Mrs. Thompson said you should eat that.” What I learned is that breast cancer can strike even when you do everything right. Science doesn't have all the answers yet, but they're getting there. Until then, continue to take every precaution to staying cancer free. I was discouraged and thought "what good did it do for me to be so health conscious all these years since I still got breast cancer. A wise friend told me, if I hadn't of been so health conscious, I might not have been able to win the battle.

Have you been told that you have dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue. Does this sound familiar to some of you women? If so, and you've been told that you have dense breast, please keep reading. I was frequently told that I had dense breast tissue during my physical exams. Dense breast tissue can mask a tumor in your breast, making it difficult for a radiologist to see on a mammogram. I also have fibrocystic disease which means I get fluid filled cysts in my breast which can causes tenderness and pain. These cysts can also hide tumors. Women with dense breast tissue frequently have fibrocystic disease. After receiving the news from my PCP that my mass was suspicious for malignancy, she sent me to a breast surgeon to have a biopsy which later confirmed the mass as malignant. I had a lumpectomy soon after which confirmed the tumor was Stage 1 TN0 +for micro-mets breast carcinoma. My surgeon showed me all of my mammogram pictures from previous years.She showed me an area that looked like a shadow and said that was my tumor growing which was being interpreted as dense breast tissue in the past; and to my surprise, she said it was there for at least two years.

About Dense Breast Tissue:

  • Are breasts that is composed mostly of connective tissue, with little fat.
  • Dense breast tissue appears white on a mammogram, making it difficult to see suspicious areas.
  • Fat appears as a dark area on a mammogram and reveals tumors much easier.
  • Is difficult to interpret on mammograms,
  • Tumors can hide behind dense breast tissue.
  • Can hide cancerous tumors.

If you have dense breast tissue, please question your doctor about having an ultrasound along with your mammogram and even a breast MRI. It's your body and you have the right to question and advocate on your own behalf.

I had mammograms every six months

It will probably surprise you to know that I have been having mammograms every six months for years. Back in 2009, I had a suspicious area removed from my right breast which turned out to be calcifications with no malignancy. Ever since then I always had a six month recall after my yearly mammogram because of either cysts or calcified areas in either breast.

Frequent recalls after mammograms

When I had my yearly mammogram in January of 2013, I received a letter to come back the following week for a recall for a magnification mammogram of the left breast since it showed a solid mass. After the magnification mammogram, the radiologist thought it would be a good idea to perform an ultrasound. When the technician left and brought the radiologist back with her I immediately knew something was wrong. He decided to arrange for me to have a breast MRI because of my strong family history of cancer.

Mammogram not always foolproof for women with dense breast

The results of the breast MRI bring us back to the beginning of this hub. My doctor was baffled when she said the breast MRI revealed that the mass in my left breast appeared to be a cyst but that I had a suspicious tumor in the right for malignancy. For years, my mammogram interpretations for the right breast were fine, being interpreted as dense breast tissue with calcifications. If you have dense breast, you should have an ultrasound along with a mammogram and a breast mammogram if the ultrasound shows a suspicious area.

Dense Breast Tissue

Were you told that you have dense breast tissue?

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Grateful for the cyst in my left breast

I’m a person who sees the glass half full and always find the sunny side of life, so-I decided to be thankful that I had a cyst in my left breast, because if I didn't, the radiologist would have never arranged for me to have a breast MRI. which clearly showed the cancer in my right breast and I'm fortunate that my cancer was caught in an early stage and that I have a good prognosis, I still have to have chemotherapy for four months and then radiation for two months.Last week I started chemo and I'm choosing to stay positive, close to my Lord and Savior and know that I will beat this. This is just another challenge in my life that I will win. Hopefully this hub has encouraged you to take an aggressive approach to breast screening if you have dense breast tissue. Question your doctor, learn all you can about it. It's your life!

Mammograms For Dense Breast Tissue, What To Know Courtesy of You Tube, Jay Harness


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      Carrie L. Cronkite 4 years ago from Maine

      Thank you for your comments Torrilynn. The best to you. So sorry to hear about your grandfather and mom. My sincerest condolences.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your story. I understand the urgency to get checked for breast cancer. My grandpa passed from cancer and my mom recently passed from breast cancer as well, voted up shared and pinned for others to see

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you so much healthylife2, I'm so happy this article is helping already. You are absolutely right, it should be a law everywhere for an ultrasound to be part of routine mammograms. Hopefully that will happen very soon. Thank you for your healing energy! The best to you.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Your very informative article will help others. In the state of Connecticut it's a law that if a person has dense breast tissue an ultrasound is done. This should be a law everywhere. I wrote a hub about my experience with chemotherapy and am sending you healing energy from Connecticut. Your story will definitely help others.

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Hi Vellur,

      You are very welcome and thank you for the wonderful comment.

      God bless you too and the best to you!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Thank you for sharing this hub, very useful and important to all women. God bless and take care.

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you very much Susan, so happy to hear that you learned some new health information. The best to you!

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      Susan 5 years ago from India

      Great hub. Came to know so many new things. Voted up and thanks for sharing this informative hub.

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      Carrie L. Cronkite 5 years ago from Maine

      Thank you for visiting Koralee, I'm happy I was able to educate about dense breast tissue and thank you for the well wishes. I wish you the best!

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 5 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      This is great advice. Thank you also for describing dense breast tissue. I have heard of that term, but I did not understand exactly what it meant. I am also really uplifted by your positive attitude and strong will to beat the cancer.