Monday, October 26, 2020

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As a breast cancer survivor (three times) this month hold a special place for me. Almost everyone knows someone who has, or has had , breast cancer, or maybe it’s you and you’re a survivor. Do you “Run for the Cure?” Do you donate to Breast Cancer this month? No, I’m not hustling for donations, but I through more research more and more people survive. I’ve known several people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Many years ago, they didn’t survive Now diagnosis, treatment and prognosis has improved thanks to research.

Two of my three diagnosis were discovered by a mammogram. (The other one was a feeling I had and told my family doctor, and he ordered a mammogram, so I guess all three were). I know there are pros and cons about mammograms. Pros- They do save lives. They are estimated to reduce cancer deaths by 15%. Cons – Some people will undergo treatment for no reason, because the identified cancer would never have grown. Women may experience psychological distress, anxiety and uncertainty for years because of an inaccurate result. This comes from a report at https://medshadow.org/medshadow.blog/mammogram-pros-cons/ And some cancers are too aggressive and virulent to control, no matter how early they are picked-up.

Obviously, I recommend mammograms, at least women should be doing a monthly self breast check for any lumps or changes. Always remember to check the lymph nodes in the armpit. If you do have a mammogram and it shows abnormalities, they may do an ultrasound. Doctors may also use the ultrasound to do a fine wire biopsy of the area and send it to the lab for testing.  

There are several other types of biopsies that may be done. If the results show cancer cells, treatment is usually surgery. It may be a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. And may also include radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.

I found my recent experience rather amusing. (After two previous experiences you don’t get as concerned) I had my routine mammogram. Something showed up. I had an ultrasound. Not sure what it was so a fine needle biopsy was booked. I had the biopsy and the doctor at the time said it didn’t really look like cancer. It was very small. But if it was cancer, he said they had probably removed it all int the tissue sample. The lab said it was cancer and they booked a lumpectomy. The doctor did the lumpectomy and sent it off to the lab. It came back no sign of cancer. My doctor is most upset. Had she missed the spot? Was it somewhere else? I explained that they had probably got it with the biopsy. I don’t think she thought that was possible. People are still unsure and confused about this. I gather this is not common. 😊

If you have a comment or story to share, I’d love to hear it.

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