Ok, I am issuing an official 1-month challenge to all of my girlfriends who are in their late 30s and early 40s. Now’s the time – get screened for breast cancer, yesterday isn’t soon enough. My cancer was picked up on a routine mammogram, which I’ve done every year since I was 35. In Feb. of 06 my mammogram was clear, and in Feb. of 07 it wasn’t. It showed a 2.5 cm invasive tumor surrounded by 4-5 cm of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). And that was just in one year.
Ricky B. called today, she’s looking into thermography as she’s still nursing and doesn’t want the radiation. Alicia S. found screening through the Squaxin Tribe in Olympia and has her mammogram appointment set for the 12th. Whatever works, whatever you believe in, just get checked out.
If I had my druthers, I’d go with digital mammography all the way. Thermography is interesting, but I have the impression that accuracy is still a question, though maybe that’s improved in the 3 years since I researched it. And the MRI is extremely sensitive, but MRIs are not usually the first line of screening. Though MRIs are now officially recommended for women at high risk. Of course, a CT scan is ideal, so if you’re offered one for whatever reason, don’t turn it down, but the radiation is something to consider. Oh, and ultrasound is an option too – inexpensive, non-invasive and so safe that it’s used to see babies-in-the-belly. Of course pressing down hard on sensitive breasts hurts, but a painkiller before hand can help a lot.
As for breast self-exams – can’t hurt, but I have to tell you I had my annual pap smear and professional breast exam in Jan of 07, and the lump was not palpable at that time. Youngish women have dense, lumpy breasts and it’s just hard to tell. Both of my breast surgeons commented on how hard my lump was to feel. If you didn’t know it was there already, there was no way to tell by touch.
Ok, who is next? Leave a note, get your girlfriends to get screened too, and let me know.