Friday, January 14, 2011

Follow-ups

I won't bore you with the details of last Friday's mammogram. It was pretty much the same as the other times. Lean into the machine. Lean more. More. That's it. Relax. Don't breathe. Hold it. Hold it. Okay, now you can breathe.

The only thing different this time is that after my mammogram, they kept me waiting in the waiting room (watching Nate Berkus, and then The View) for over an hour. Still not sure why that was. And I had an appointment at the surgeon's after-wards. It made for a very long morning in the hospital. I'm still a bit cranky about that.

Anyway: here is the official result from the radiologist:
INDICATION: History of right breast cancer.
GE DIGITAL BILATERAL DIAGNOSTIC MAMMOGRAM WITH ICAD:
COMPARISON: July 2008, January 2010, and January 2009.
The breasts are extremely dense and nodular, severely limiting sensitivity of mammogram for detection of masses. A focal area of architectural distortion is noted in the right retroareolar region, consistent with prior surgery. This is marked with overlying scar marker. Surgical clips are noted in the lumpectomy bed. There are multiple microcalcifications seen scattered in both breasts which remain stable. Microcalcifications scattered in the right lumpectomy bed also remain stable since January 2010. Microcalcifications in the right upper-outer breast, posterior to the lumpectomy bed, remain stable dating back to 2009.
No spiculated masses or unexplained areas of architectural distortion.
IMPRESSION: No evidence of new or recurrent malignancy. Findings discussed with the patient.
BI-RADS 2 - benign findings.
So, believe it or not, this is a good report. She didn't find anything in particular that concerns her. Although this is the part that kills me: "the breasts are extremely dense and nodular, severely limiting sensitivity of mammogram for detection of masses." What this means is: we really can't see anything.

Dense breasts are a risk factor for breast cancer. So far, no one has been able to tell me how to make your breasts less dense. I think as you get older, the become less dense. One good thing about aging...

What's ironic is that yesterday, I received a report on this mammogram in the mail. This is what it said:
The mammogram you had on JAN 07, 2001 was NORMAL. That is, the mammogram did not show any evidence of cancer...Mammograms are useful in detecting breast cancer but will not find all breast cancers.
So first they tell you that it's normal. Then they tell you that it didn't show any evidence of cancer (but could the cancer be there without evidence?) and then they tell you that mammograms don't find all breast cancers.

Great.

Today, just to add to all the fun, I had a follow-up visit with the radiation oncologist. That's where I had my radiation treatments 1-1/2 years ago. I saw the nurse, who is lovely, and one of the radiation techs. Everyone there is very kind.

The radiation onc checked me, asked a few questions. Everything looks good. See you in a year.

I actually said to her: "so the radiation is supposed to prevent a recurrence in my right breast, and the Tamoxifen is supposed to prevent a new primary cancer in the left breast. Is there anything else I should be doing, except waiting?"

The reply: "that's all you can do."

So that about sums it up.

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