Thursday, February 9, 2012
I am getting older.
If you graduated high school in the 90's you're fast approaching 40 if you haven't gotten there already. It's one of those 'big' birthdays, one where things change. Things like, you go to the doctor and are told you need a mammogram. Happened to me at my last visit, and like a good patient, I made the appointment and went in to get a base line picture of my boobs. I do my monthly self exams, and have never found anything. I wasn't worried.
You have probably heard the horror stories about squashings and squeezings. It is not a picnic. Even with the digital x-rays, expect discomfort. I'm told it's worse if you're not..well, not overly busty. The scans consisted of 2 shots of each breast, one flattened top to bottom, one flattened side to side. It wasn't great, but not horrible.
Until the next day, when the doctors office called me. "There's a 1cm mass in one breast. You need a diagnostic mammogram. I can schedule it for next Monday."
My immediate reaction was concern. A mass? That doesn't sound good. What does that mean? Should I be scared? I was scared, I was worried!
I searched around, and found mixed information. A lot of women under 50 need additional scans. Breast tissue is still firm, and that boggles the scans. A diagnostic scan is needed to target suspicious areas, and sometimes, an ultrasound might be needed as well. But for a lot of women, that is how they find out they have cancer.
The diagnostic scan was worse. The tech said 'Let me know if you can't take it, I have to really compress to target the spot." She wasn't kidding! Ouch.
They sent the scan off to the doctor while I waited around in a 'cape' (less Little Red Riding Hood, more One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest). Nope, still couldn't confirm normal tissue. Off to get the ultrasound. Slathered in goo, more squishing.
And that takes longer to be evaluated. Or maybe they weren't concerned about getting in touch with me because the 'mass' turned out to be normal tissue. I still worried and stressed.
So. I'm sharing this so that with all of you so that you'll know. Younger breasts are dense. They trick the x-rays. Additional scans are sometimes needed, but it does NOT mean you have cancer. Especially if you don't have any other symptoms, and don't have a family history. Talk to your friends and family, see if they went through something similar. Get the test--but don't worry unnecessarily.