Name: Pat Krin
Date of Diagnosis: July 17, 2006
Age at Diagnosis: 59
Time from "normal" mammogram to cancer diagnosis: 0 months
How was cancer detected?: Ultrasound
I received a call from the radiology group where I have my mammograms about a week after my annual mammogram. I was told that they wanted to offer me a screening ultrasound because even though my mammogram was normal, my breasts were dense and a law was recently passed to require insurance companies to pay for screening ultrasounds for women with dense breasts. I reluctantly agreed to the ultrasound (after all, my mammogram was normal). The ultrasound showed a small mass, which was thought to be a cyst, but I was encouraged to have a ultrasound guided biopsy which I did on July 14, 2006. On July 17th I was called with the cancer diagnosis. I was VERY lucky, the tumor was only 8mm, I had a lumpectomy followed by radiation. As it turns out all of the cancer cells were removed during the biopsy. If Nancy had not worked so hard to get the law passed requiring insurance companies to pay for screening ultrasounds for dense breasts I am not sure where I would be today.
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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.