Looking at her today, you’d never guess that my mom friend Lori Kennedy had been through the gauntlet of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at the age of 29. A mutual friend introduced us several years ago, and after Lori learned that my field is breast imaging, she mentioned that she’d had breast cancer years before. I was intrigued by her story, and thought it would be helpful to share in “The Breast Diaries.”
The Shock of Diagnosis
In April of 1992 Lori was 29 years old, living the single life in Hoboken and working successfully in sales. She had been…Read More
Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends on Monday. Of course awareness is important, but knowing what specific actions you can take to protect yourself against the disease is empowering. Breast cancer can strike anyone, with or without risk factors. However, there are several things you can do NOW to lessen the likelihood of advanced breast cancer happening to you.
1. Lace up and take a walk! According to the Women’s Health Initiative study, women who walked just 30 minutes per day at least 5 days a week (exercise pace, not a leisurely stroll) decreased their…Read More
Nancy Cappello, PhD and JoAnn Pushkin were interviewed on Good Morning America last week, talking about their experiences as women doing “everything right”: mammograms every year, healthy lifestyle, annual checkups. Yet even though they were good, compliant patients, they both were diagnosed with advanced breast cancers. How did this happen? Well, they were never informed that they have dense breast tissue, which confers an increased risk for breast cancer, AND makes a mammogram so hard to read that up to half of cancers won’t be seen.
Since they were …Read More
For most women, age 40 should be when you start having yearly mammograms in order to minimize your likelihood of developing advanced breast cancer (“Government Mammography Task Force vs. You”). Some doctors send their patients for a baseline mammogram at age 35, and I wouldn’t argue with that.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer (mother or sister), start having your mammogram 10 years younger than the age that relative was diagnosed, OR at age 40, whichever is younger. For example, if your sister had …Read More
As follow-up to my last post regarding breast self-examination, I offer a real case example:
A 39-year-old mom with no family history of breast cancer felt a lump in her right breast when she was doing a self-examination. Her mammogram pictures show dense breast tissue. A triangular-shaped sticker (you can see the triangle on the RMLO and RCC films) has been put on the lump. At that site on the mammogram, there is an irregular mass best seen on the magnified view RMML (yellow arrow) that demonstrates “spiculated margins”- a radiology term for badness. …Read More
By now you’ve probably seen the internet jokes that compare the mammogram experience to having your breast squashed in a refrigerator door/ automatic garage/ etc. A few years back, I joined the club of women who have our annual mammograms, and I can’t say that I disagree with the imagery of the jokes; however, the benefits of early detection FAR outweigh the discomfort (don’t you hate when doctors say that? It’s not “discomfort” or “a little pressure”— It HURTS!), so I’m willing to put up with it.
I’d like to share a few tips I’ve…Read More