Archives for: February 2008, 15
I have had a traumatic mammogram experience. I'll tell you about it, in the hopes that someone else will profit from my experience.
Every mammogram I have had since my Darling Daughter was weaned has showed calcifications on one side. Every time the report indicates that the pattern has not changed. I have not worried about it, and my doctor has not worried about it.
I had a mammogram last week. A few days later, the doctor's office left a message on my answering machine. I knew it couldn't be good news - they never call about good reports. It was the next day before I got any information. There wasn't really a problem, just something they wanted to recheck. Yeah, right. I spent the next few days on an emotional roller coaster.
When I went in for my follow up appointment, I started asking questions. Calcifications, I learned, are areas of dead breast tissue. Most women have some. They are caused by a variety of things including any kind of trauma. A seatbelt can leave them after a car accident. A bruise can leave them. The reason they watch for them on a mammogram is because cancer also leaves them behind.
I asked what would cause the changes. The technician said that they had switched from doing film mammograms to digital mammograms. Digital picks up more detail. The area where I had always had calcifications showed the same ones, plus some more. There were also calcifications on the other side. They might not be new at all; they might just be visible for the first time.
They took a bunch of pictures, I waited, and they took two more. I was pronounced clean and healthy.
Half of me was ecstatically happy that I was cancer free. Half of me was angry that I had been put through so much expense and worry, when they knew that the most likely cause of the different results was the different technology. They rubbed it in by saying that I needed to come back in 6 months and let them take more pictures for comparison.
I am left with the feeling that the company is paying for its fancy new equipment by calling women back for retests. Either that or the MDs who read the results are so scared of lawsuits that they are protecting themselves by ordering additional tests rather than make a decisive diagnosis.
My insurance does not cover mammograms. If I had been given full disclosure, I would not have worried so much. I might have waited a little while to take the comparison pictures. Then I would have known for sure whether it was the new technology or changes in my tissues.
I have decided to set aside my irritation and choose happiness. It is easy to be happy when you can plan for a holiday weekend rather than plan for a hospital biopsy!
Ladies, when you go for your next mammogram, ask a few questions. Find out if they have switched to digital. Find out how the results are changing and whether they are calling women back for retests. Ask if the new technology is identifying cancers earlier and saving lives. Don't waste even a few days worrying like I did.