- Women's Health
Women - Take Charge of Your Health; Breast Cancer and Dense Breast Tissue
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?
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!