Date of Diagnosis: February, 2008
Age at Diagnosis: 66
Stage of Diagnosis: Stage IIIA
Time from "normal" mammogram to Stage 3 diagnosis: 9 to 12 months
How was cancer detected: By me
I did a self-exam on Jan 1, 2008 and felt very small hard tip behind nipple of left breast. The internist could not find it and sent me for diagnostic mammogram AND diagnostic ultrasound (bless him). Mammogram showed nothing - BUT ultrasound showed "vague mass" which was followed up by MRI and Ultrasound and MRI biopsy. Final diagnosis: 9.5 cm (YES!) tumor UNDETECTED BY MAMMOGRAM, Stage IIIA, Grade 2. The massive tumor was undetected by me as well because it felt like my usual lumps and bumps and I was looking for the little "pea'" sized hard thing that they tell you to look for. How many stories do we need to hear before additional screening is the norm for women with dense breasts? The mammography letter that women receive stating that the mammogram is "normal" may not be true for women with dense breast tissue. It's ridiculous.
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Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer.
Two-thirds of pre-menopausal women and 1/4 of post menopausal women have dense breast tissue.
Adding more sensitive tests to mammography significantly increase detection of invasive cancers that are small and node negative.
American College of Radiology describes women with "Dense Breast Tissue" as having a higher than average risk of Breast Cancer.
While a mammogram detects 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it finds only 48% in women with the densest breasts.
A woman at average risk and a woman at high risk have an EQUAL chance of having their cancer masked by mammogram.
Women with dense breasts who had breast cancer have a four times higher risk of recurrence than women with less-dense breasts.
A substantial proportion of Breast Cancer can be attributed to high breast density alone.
Cancer turns up five times more often in women with extremely dense breasts than those with the most fatty tissue.
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.