|Date of diagnosis:|
May 24, 2016
|Age at time of diagnosis: |
Stage of diagnosis:
|Stage 2 w/ mets to nodes |
|Last 'NORMAL' Mammogram: |
within one month
How was cancer diagnosed?
I have always had annual mammogram since my mother had breast cancer. I was cautious about breast cancer. My last "happy" mammogramphy report came in March 2016. I was suspicious about this report because when I peaked in the mammogram photo at the mammogram screen, I thought I saw something. I asked the mammogram technician about the white circle, but the technician said that the radiologist will look at it and evaluate it.
I received an automated report which stated that my mammogram was normal and "see you next year." I spoke with my gynecologist and asked her if my mammogram really was normal. She kept repeating that it was normal. Recognizing that I was not satisfied with her nonchalant response, these words, "YOU have dense breast tissue stumbled out of her mouth and she continued to report that the 'sensitivity' of mammo seeing cancer was reduced." This was the FIRST time I heard this description about my breasts and the limits of mammogram. I said to her, "You gave me an ineffective test and based on that ineffective test, you are saying it was normal?" Noting my determination and anger, she offed another screening, an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed an invasive tumor - stage 2 with lymph node metastases - within a month of my NORMAL results.
I am outraged that my doctor who knew that I have higher risk of breast cancer as my mother had breast cancer in addition to the risk factor of dense breasts, didn't recommend another screening other than mammogram.
I called my gynecologist and complained, "Why didn't you tell me about my dense breasts?" she exclaimed, "it is not my job to tell the patient as there are many women with dense breasts." If it is not her 'job' to tell me, who is suppose to tell me about the limits of screening mammography in MY dense breasts? My gynecologist had received yearly reports from the radiologist that included information about my dense breasts, which I never received, and STILL didn't tell me about it at all.
What would have happened if I waited a year for another mammography exam? I already have to endure a harsher treatment,including chemotheraphy, because of metastasized lymph nodes. I hope my story educates others about their breast health.
Ladies - YOU must be your own breast health advocate.
Yukiko's story is also featured on the non profit Japanese Breast Cancer Network(BCIN)website, here.
Dr. Tozaki, a great supporter and friend of Are You Dense Inc., is the President of BCIN.
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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.