Brittany's Story

Date of diagnosis:October 1, 2014
Age at time of diagnosis:29
Stage of diagnosis:1a
Date of mammogram:Sept. 16. 2014
How was cancer diagnosed:Felt by me, detected by ultrasound

Brittany's Story:  At 29 years old and with no family history, it is not even recommended for me to have an annual mammogram. Twenty-nine-year-old breasts are usually pretty dense, anyway, making mammograms almost obsolete. I had a slight shooting pain radiate through my breast and found a lump in my right breast and, fortunately, my first screening was an ultrasound. On September 16th, I had a follow-up mammogram that was only dubbed as "inconclusive" versus "normal" due to the fact that I had a palpable lump and an abnormal ultrasound. "Cancer doesn't hurt" and "You're too young" were told by me by several health care providers. If only they were right.  A biopsy then confirmed the worst: I had invasive ductal breast cancer. After my mastectomy, pathology results showed that my tumor was 1.7 cm and the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes. I was diagnosed as stage 1A, Triple Negative Breast Cancer.  I had a mastectomy and am completing chemotherapy. To me, however, the most important aspect of this is my two daughters,currently ages four and one and a half. Because of my diagnosis at such a young age, it is now recommended for them to start breast cancer screenings at 19 years old. With my new knowledge about mammograms and dense breasts, I will be able to advocate for better screening methods for them when mammograms appear "normal" on their young, dense breasts.

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  • Are You Dense? Fact #1:

    Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #2:

    Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and 1/4 of post menopausal women have dense breast tissue. 

  • Are You Dense? Fact #3:

    Adding more sensitive tests to mammography significantly increase detection of invasive cancers that are small and node negative.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #4:

    American College of Radiology describes women with "Dense Breast Tissue" as having a higher than average risk of Breast Cancer.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #5:

    While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with the densest breasts.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #6:

    A woman at average risk and a woman at high risk have an EQUAL chance of having their cancer masked by mammogram.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #7:

    Women with dense breasts who had breast cancer have a four times higher risk of recurrence than women with less-dense breasts.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #8:

    A substantial proportion of Breast Cancer can be attributed to high breast density alone.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #9:

    Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with the most fatty tissue.

  • Are You Dense? Fact #10

    There are too many women who are unaware of their breast density, believe their “Happy Gram” when it reports no significant findings and are at risk of receiving a later stage cancer diagnosis.