Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mammograms: Are they really necessary?

I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage one, invasive, estrogen receptor + breast cancer on November 22, 2011. 7 separate cancer cells were found. Only one of them was larger than a millimeter in diameter. I was fortunate to be in the 50% of the population where my cancer had not spread and I did not need to have chemo or radiation.

I had a double mastectomy, both of my ovaries and 6 lymph nodes removed from under my left arm on December 16, 2011.

I had my first base-line mammogram when I was 37. My ob-gyn ordered it and told me that if it was necessary, I should also have an ultrasound assist. Because I had large, dense breasts and I was pre-menopausal. I NEEDED an ultrasound assist.

I continued having annual mammograms until I was 43. My ob-gyn retired and because I had had a very trusting relationship with him, I made the decision to NOT GO to his partner that he left his practice to. I did not like his partner and I had no desire to drive the long distance to the hospital that he was affiliated with.

I also had no desire to find a new ob-gyn, but I KNEW that if and when it would become necessary, I would choose the Dr that one of my neighbors had recommended. This Dr had his office closer to where I live and I have had a positive experience with the hospital that he is affiliated with.

On October 19, 2011, I discovered an indentation under the nipple on my left breast and just to the right of it, I found a small lump. I called this new Dr to schedule an appointment 2 days later. I asked his receptionist if he was taking any new patients, she told me that he wasn't until after the first of the year. I "explained my situation." She put me on hold for about 10 minutes. (It felt like A LOT LONGER than that.) She told me that he could see me 1 week later.

It didn't surprise me that after my appointment with him that he ordered me to have a mammogram within the coming week. I asked him why I couldn't skip the mammogram and just have an ultrasound since I ALWAYS NEEDED to have on with my prior mammograms. He told me that the mammography tech would make that decision.

I had the mammogram 6 days later. Once again, I wasn't surprised that I needed an ultrasound.

After I had the ultrasound, the technician did not release me right away. She wanted to consult with the head of the radiology department first. She came back a few minutes later WITH him. He decided to take 4 more pictures.

I already shared the final outcome at the beginning of this blog. I can't help but wonder if the mammograms contributed to my cancer. Please read the following article and let me know what you think.