Saturday, October 17, 2015

MAMMOGRAM WARS - And why I still have the damn things

I'm told I'm cured.  Or I was cured of DCIS for a moment in time.  In a couple months, I'll have another "diagnostic" mammo - the more uncomfortable kind.  I take Tamoxifen, I don't use soy.  I don't take estrogen.  So why do I still have mammograms?

The knee jerk answer is that my doctor wants me to.  But I don't automatically do what my MDs want.

One answer is I get mammos because DCIS can come back.  After the suspicious mammo, I had a stereotactic biopsy.  Days later, a cheery voice over the phone just said:  "There is cancer.  Go see Dr. "x"  We use him all the time."  I have a special curse in mind for people who use jolly voices when they announce cancer!  

I saw the doctor. I had the surgery.  But I had never felt a lump!  DCIS usually is not a lump. Those breast ducts are small.  So, if it comes back, I won't know.  Maybe not until too late.

The surgery gave me a major deciding tool - a pathology report.  I dug around in it.  It said the sample was hormone receptive, as most breast cancers are.  It said I didn't have the lowest nuclear grade, which is not good. I can't find this hospital's exact nuclear rating scale on line, but mine was not in the lower half of the scale.  Not good.  Not likely to lie there and get well in my breast.  For some reason, I never see these rating scales discussed when authorities are discouraging mammograms.  Or is it that the famous minds are just talking about an initial mammogram?  Or what?

I have to say, usually respectfully, that the ongoing disagreement between authorities, plus frequently unclear reporting, gives me no grounds for arguing with my oncologist so far.

So when the surgeon said I didn't have to do anything more, he quickly added that he recommended I meet the radiation oncologist and the medical oncologist, who is now my trusted continuing doctor for preventive Tamoxifen.  And that oncologist  has recommended a change to a mammography service he values and trusts.  So before the end of the year, I'll be there.

I wish you health.

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