Don't diagnose yourself. Get it checked out!

boob recall

In ALL, ILLNESS by Stephanie Klein21 Comments

I went for my annual 3D mammogram screening yesterday. I got a phone call this morning from the imaging center. They need me to schedule “a recall appointment.” No one is recalling my boobs because they’re defective, but they need to recall me back to the office for further examination.

The panic is inevitable. I sat up and grabbed a pen. The doctor just had areas he couldn’t see. “So the doctor didn’t see abnormalities? Just has areas that didn’t show up?” She doesn’t answer me directly. Instead she offers, “When we’re younger, our breast tissue is denser. So the doctor wants another mammogram under more magnification and also an ultrasound.” The other day, at my annual gynecologist appointment, my doctor said my breasts were dense but that she didn’t feel any areas of concern.

There is a history of cancer in my family: breast and ovarian, so I’m especially nervous. I told my doctor that I have mild lower back pain, so I also had an ultrasound of my pelvis and a trans-vaginal ultrasound.

Fine. Let’s just get this over with. “Can I come in today?” No. There is no doctor on the weekends. Fine. Monday? No. Not until Friday, March 31. I ask if I can go to a different, affiliated imaging center, something sooner, just for peace of mind. I phone another place, they can see me two days sooner, on Wednesday. But before they schedule me they need to know if it’s an ultrasound for both breasts or just one. I don’t have the answer. AND the answer freaks me out. Because both seems fine (they equally can’t see everything), but if they say just one breast needs an ultrasound, it makes me think there’s an area of concern. Wouldn’t they tell me if they saw an area of concern? Or would they not want me to worry, so they just say the vague, “doctor wants to see more?” Or are they just being ultra-conservative and thorough?

Now I need to harass them every day to know if they have cancellations.

I’m sharing this to remind people to schedule their mammograms, their primary care annual exams, and their dermatologist screenings for mole-checks. Also, more importantly, I feel like I now need to stop commenting away any mild pain and instead just get it checked out. Even if it means a recall. Next up, I want a followup blood test for my cholesterol and for my liver and kidney function. I just want to know that it’s all okay.

Despite being on estrogen and progesterone because I went into menopause when I was 34, I still didn’t get my period the past 2 months. So, I’m a stress case, and I just want it all checked out. Get it all behind me. And I share this to remind you to do the same. Don’t self-diagnose. Don’t explain it to yourself, why you’re gaining weight or losing weight inexplicably, or why you feel bloated, or why you have a mild dull low back pain. Just get it checked out.

I posted this image on Instagram, reminding others to get their yearly screening: http://bit.ly/2mYZCkY

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Comments

  1. This sounds really standard to me. If you have dense breasts the protocol is always to get an ultrasound. So you must have the requisite density for that. Mammograms even 3D are insufficient for dense breasts. I am sure you are fine and have a thorough practitioner.

  2. I get called back almost every year. I’ve been having mammograms or sonograms every year since I was 18.

  3. You will be fine. I am large 38DDD. My mom had breast cancer 20 years ago at the age of 45. I’ll be 40 this year..They call me back every year. I’ve started doing ultrasounds as a preventative measure. I’ve had clogged ducts that 6 months later have remedied themselves. We have to remember not everything is catastrophic. You are absolutely right in reminding everyone how important it is to be screened regularly. I will think good thoughts for you.

  4. Dense breasts here too! Agree with the commenter above. I got a sonogram this year because they just cannot see behind the dense tissue on a mammo. If this is your first sonogram, it is considered baseline and so don’t be surprised if you have to come back in a few months for a follow up to make sure that what the sonogram shows is “stable” aka a cyst or complicated cyst that goes away on its own or just hangs out being a cyst. The radiologist explained to me all the ways they can tell from a sonogram that something is a cyst and not cancer so I would ask about that too. At my imaging center you review the sono with the radiologist. Worth an ask for peace of mind if they do not do that as standard procedure.

    1. Author

      Oh boy. I don’t think I can bring myself to look without passing out. I’m a big baby. It’s startling that I had two babies of my own. This was my third mammogram. I had a baseline at 35, one at 40, and now at 41 with a RECALL.

  5. I also have dense breasts and was told I needed to have an ultrasound as well as a mammogram every time – because having dense breasts means most of the picture looks white, whereas people with fatty breasts have greyish looking pictures – with the cancer showing up as white. The doctors want to cover themselves because if they missed anyone’s cancer they could get sued. So, try not to panic. It is probably the doctor wanting to make sure and cover their arses.

  6. I have gone through the exact same thing twice now with my mammos. Very dense breast tissue require an ultrasound and a second mammo. Luckily things were fine. I just have dense (dumb) boobs. It is worrisome though. I wish you well.

  7. I just went through the exact same thing. Called back for more images with absolutely no explanation other than “we need more images.” It turned out to be just that. They couldn’t get clear enough images of my dense breast tissue the first time so I had 3 more rounds of the standard mammogram images and then an ultrasound–all the same day. This despite the fact that I had done the 3D images the first time.

    Try not to worry. I too have a history of breast & ovarian cancer in my family, so it’s easier said than done, I know!

  8. The waiting is really difficult. If they told me they just needed a better view, I wouldn’t worry— I just went through a biopsy and my doc/technician worded it very carefully but they DID tell me that they saw something that didn’t look quite right. We learned it was a benign cyst after the biopsy, and they let me see it when they did the ultrasound. I wouldn’t worry until they tell you something specific~~

  9. Proud owner of ‘dense, complicated breasts’. Still sends my adrenal glands into overdrive when they call me back for a re-do (every year), but it is sort of like an opportunity for an atheist like me to have a semi-religious experience…or an opportunity to be grateful all over again for all of the good things. You’ll be fine.

  10. Hope you are okay. Take care. I was there and being prepped once for an aspiration and after fainting (another part of the story I wont bore you with), they took another ex-ray and told me it couldn’t be cancer and sent me home. That was probably 20+ years ago and I am fine today.

  11. They do this to me every. single. year. An ultrasound, then they have me come back in 6 months, instead of a year. and it’s all just nothing, nothing, nothing. My mom also had breast cancer. I’m convinced that they’re so worried about the liability of missing it that they over-examine the hell out of us.

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