Patient Comments: Breast Cancer - Diagnosis

How was your breast cancer detected?

A Doctor's View on Breast Cancer Detection

Read the Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Breast cancer detection can be achieved by a variety of methods. Screening for breast cancer can be detected at earlier stages with mammography (mammograms). Other methods of breast cancer detection include:

  • ultrasound with mammography,
  • MRI,
  • breast cancer biopsy, and
  • fine needle aspiration of the suspicious breast tissue.
Read the entire Doctor's View

Comment from: Kathy, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 25

My mammogram in December of 2016, was fine. Afterwards I got a copy of a letter in the mail saying I had type D dense breast and I could get an MRI if I paid for it. I looked over my last three mammograms and saw that each year my breast density was increased to the next level. No one ever told me density increases or that it was a real issue. I paid for the fast MRI and it lit up a small under 1 cm mass. I had a second look MRI four days later and a biopsy two weeks later which showed well differentiated invasive ductal cancer with lobular features or something similar. Seeing breast surgeon this week. Sounds early so I am grateful.

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Comment from: Leslie, (Patient) Published: February 04

I am 52 and was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer when I was 44. It was very fast, very aggressive. I had pain and itching in the affected breast. I also had fibrocystic disease from my teen years on. I was lucky that we caught the cancer because it grows in sheets, not round, and regular mammograms don't see it, and my breast tissue is so dense and full of cysts that it is hard to view. But irregular areas of a different shade made it suspect, then a special ultrasound, made it probable, then a special MRI showed a 'dot-dash like matrix extending posteriorly from the nipple exteriorly to the chest wall'. It was fast and aggressive, within one month when we were doing more tests, biological markers, and putting in the port, my breast had nipple distortion, a 4 inch 'dent' extending upward towards the 1:00 position, and redness, then a change in the skin appearance. They started chemotherapy 3 days after the port insertion, instead of waiting the usual 2 weeks. It's been a rough 8 years. My daughter had ruptured ovarian cysts at the age of 12, and was diagnosed with fibrocystic disease at the age of 13, with a biopsy. She has it worse than me. I'm BRAC negative, but have been told that there are other genes which play into breast cancer and obviously my daughter is at a much higher risk and should start having mammograms at 24. Please everyone, be alert! Don't think it won't be you, and doesn't happen to you. I was told that I had a 10 percent survival chance for 5 years, the cancer was in my chest wall, and considered systemic, I had thyroid cancer concurrently (2 types), I had a nodule in my lung which was removed, and several other scares. But I'm here, I'm considered stable (not cured), and will be on medication for life (hopefully a really long one). Be vigilant, and note the changes in the pain and be persistent with doctors; when you know something isn't right be persistent! Originally my doctor told me it was most likely an infection, there was only a dime sized area of redness, I told her it was cancer, and bad, I knew it, and she listened and ordered the specialized mammogram and ultrasound for the next day.

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Comment from: Joanne, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 07

My breast cancer was detected by mammogram only. I can't emphasize enough how important getting your mammogram is. It saved my life.

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Comment from: slmhobblet, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 04

My breast cancer was discovered accidentally. I had a "clean" mammogram on May 31 of last year (2007). I ran the Casper Marathon on June 8, 2007. I was feeling myself all over the next day, thinking "Ow, everything still hurts," when I found a very small lump the size of a green pea in my left breast nearly under my arm. I immediately made an appointment with my physician, who decided to watch it a couple of months to see if it would go away on its own. When it was still present on July 23, we agreed I should have a diagnostic mammogram. Upon reading the mammogram, the radiologist said, "I can't see anything"... not anything as in "no cancer" but as in "diddlysquat...your breasts are too dense to read." She said I needed an ultrasound, which I then had and which clearly indicated on the screen, even to me, that something different was present. I returned two days later for a fine core biopsy and a research MRI for a clinical study. Results from the biopsy and the MRI indicated the presence of cancer. This experience has totally demolished my confidence in mammograms. I feel as though I have been brainwashed by the flood of propaganda about getting my yearly mammograms (which I have done every year for the past 19 years). This cancer had been present for an estimated five to six years, yet no mammogram or yearly physician's exam had detected it. My yearly mammogram report always said something to the effect that I have dense breasts that make the mammograms more difficult to interpret....but nowhere or at any time was I ever told that the physician could not see "anything" as in "diddlysquat," and that to be safe, I should have an MRI. My physician says that the insurance will not pay for such MRIs and that is why doctors don't recommend them. I would gladly have paid for the expense myself given the fact that breast cancer runs in my family. I will be fortunate to survive another four years now.

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