Nine months before her 5.5 CM invasive tumor was discovered, Carrie's "Happy Gram" report said " Negative mammogram with no evidence of malignancy."
Date of Diagnosis: October 27, 2011
Age at Diagnosis: 41
Stage of Diagnosis: 3A
Time from "normal" mammogram to diagnosis: 9 months
How was cancer detected? by me and ultrasound
I am an RN, BSN, CCRN (critical care certified) and never realized that mammograms are so limited in dense breasts. My tumor was 5.5 CM and was not 'seen' by mammogram. I also never thought cancer hurt and my lump, which literally appeared over night, was very tender. My doctor ordered a PAP test, mammogram, blood work and chest X-ray that all came back negative. My doctor never mentioned my "dense" breasts nor suggested additional screening such as a breast ultrasound. The lump on my right breast went away and a couple months later I discovered a lump on my left breast.
It was not until August that I went to a new doctor that agreed it sounded like cysts. I also began to lose weight. The doctor ordered a CT scan of my chest and abdomen (negative). I went back again and told the doctor, "It's not that I want something to be wrong. I just know there is.” You don't turn 40 and loose 15 lbs unless you’re dying of cancer." He then ordered an ultrasound and BINGO there it was - Pathology report: 5.5 cm tumor and 4/7 positive lymph nodes.
After my diagnosis I asked for a copy of the letter that was sent to my doctor after my mammogram. It said "The breast tissue is heterogeneously dense. This may lower the sensitivity of mammography - Negative mammogram with no evidence of malignancy. My tumor was 5.5 cm and they could not see it by mammogram!!
I asked my doctor to look at my original mammogram and CT scan. He said my breasts were too dense and the tumor could not be seen on either one. As a nurse I was blown away that I was never told this information. I asked all of my doctors why ultrasound is not used for patients with dense breast. I keep getting the reply "It's not protocol". I would be happy to help you in any way that I can to get a law in Indiana.