This is a follow up to my previous post about getting a mammogram.
Quite a few women need to go back for a follow up mammogram screening. This is usually not a cause for concern — our breasts have lots of odd bits n pieces of tissue in them, including fatty deposits, ropey fibers, and liquid-filled cysts. Your first screening is viewed with specific care so that any questions about the non-usual can be seen to quickly, mapped out, and then they become part of your future screenings. “Is that something over towards the left?” “Yeah, that’s a little nodule — had it forever.”
The women in my family are all a fibrous, lumpy-breasted lot. So I wasn’t surprised at the call I got the day after my mammogram. Sure enough there were three areas in my left breast that they wanted to take a better look at.
That Friday –less than a week after my first screening, I was back. This time the procedure was a lot more involved, specific, and — I have to say it — painful. My breast was SUPER squeezed, twisted and squeezed, and then SQUEEZED. All to get a better look at the various questionable areas. It was uncomfortable. My breast felt quite bruised (although it wasn’t).
While the radiologist looked over the new findings (they didn’t want me to leave with anymore questionable areas — perhaps because they knew they might not get me back again!) I contemplated the fact that I am supremely lucky to have such good health care and the coverage to pay for it.
The technician came back. “We want you to have an ultrasound. There’s a definite area that isn’t just flesh or fibers, and we want a better look at it.”
So I went for an ultrasound. It was very hard to find, and very deep inside my breast — almost at the chest wall of muscle over bone. It was an anomaly. The radiologist was matter of fact. “This is very likely nothing to be concerned about, but since this is your first mammography, I want to be sure we know what it is. I want you to come in for a biopsy”
Here’s the statistics: 80% of women who go in for follow up biopsies of the unusual parts of their breasts have nothing wrong, or its entirely benign. My family has no history of breast cancer (or much cancer at all, except Father’s Father who had colon cancer). The odds are very much on my side.
But it is still a worry.