At Twenty Something

Diane found a lump and she made an appointment with the gynecologist and he referred her to a surgeon.  The surgeon scheduled an ultra-sound and told her it was a cyst and he could either drain it or remove it.  Diane wanted it removed and when the surgeon removed it he found that it was more than just a cyst.  Part of it was solid and had the characteristics of a tumor.  The pathology report came back clean.

At Age 50 – Occurrence #1

In March of 2009 Diane was having bloody discharge from her left nipple and she made an appointment with her gynecologist.  The gynecologist examined Diane and then referred her to a surgeon.  The surgeon examined Diane and scheduled a mammogram.

We visited the surgeon in her office and we were told the results from the mammogram showed a small mass attached to one of the milk ducts.  That is what was causing the bloody discharge.  It was decided that surgery was necessary to remove the mass.  A biopsy was done in preparation for the surgery in April.  The results from the biopsy showed no cancer being present.  The surgeon removed the mass and the pathology report came back clean.

The surgeon told us that even though the results did not show any cancer present, the mass could have become cancerous if it had not been removed.  The surgeon suggested that an MRI should be done in six months to give a good view of what is present and give a baseline for future reference.

At Age 50 – Occurrence #2

In late November of 2009 Diane’s surgeon scheduled the MRI that we discussed in April.  The surgeon read the report from the radiologist and she told Diane over the phone that the radiologist saw what looked like a new mass.  The surgeon thought that it could have been scar tissue from the earlier surgery since the mass was located near the location of the earlier surgery.

The surgeon consulted with the radiologist and it was decided that an ultrasound could help decide if it truly was a mass.  The radiologist read the results of the ultrasound while Diane waited at the testing center.  After reviewing the results, the radiologist told Diane that the ultrasound confirmed that it was a mass, not scar tissue.   He told her there is a difference in the blood flow characteristics between a mass and scar tissue, that is what the MRI and the ultrasound both showed, confirming his original diagnosis.

We decided that we would schedule surgery and forgo the biopsy since it was getting late in the year and we wanted this taken care of before the new year.  The surgeon removed the small mass and after the surgery she told me that it was about the size if a small pearl.  I was also told that the mass was similar to the first one in regards to the fact that it did need to be removed due to the risk of future cancer.

The surgeon called us on Christmas Eve to discuss the pathology report findings.  The discussion of the pathology report was more detailed this time and there was more to be concerned about.  There wasn’t any cancer present but the type of  marker cells that were causing concern for the future were present in a higher density in this new mass.  There were dead cells in the center of the mass too, which indicates fast growth of the mass.

The surgeon then explained our options for treatment:

  1. Do nothing special and have a yearly mammogram as usual.  She advised us against doing this, she did not feel that this was enough.
  2. Start taking a cancer preventative drug called Tamoxifen, plus have a mammogram in six months, then have an MRI in six months.  The Tamoxifen would need to be taken for a period of five years.  The mammogram and MRI cycle would need to be repeated every year.
  3. Submit to a Prophylactic Mastectomy procedure, which removes the breast tissue from both breasts.  Once the breast tissue is removed a procedure is done to reconstruct the form of the breasts.

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The Treatment.