How to handle scary mammogram results

<p>Ladies this one is for you: Just got back from a conference with a doctor discussing my annual mammogram. This year's test shows a change from last year and she wants to do a needle biopsy. I will be completely honest, I am terrified. My husband knows, but I do not want to alarm anyone else, including my sons, who are 18 and 24. The good news is that there is an 80% change there is nothing wrong, good odds, I know. However, I feel so very alone.</p>

<p>Has someone else had a similar experience and how did you handle it? Thanks for any words of wisdom you might have.</p>

<p>Yes I did several years ago. Mine was not able to be diagnosed through a needle biopsy as it was lots of little specks and required injecting of dye and a surgical biopsy - fun stuff. It turned out to be fine but it is very scary. {{{{hugs}}}}. My husband was already talking about wigs and such!!</p>

<p>My suggestion is that you share it with close friends and possibly your sons. I was actually with a friend who is a 'high risk' with much breast cancer in her family and she had moved and had flown back to have her mammogram with this particular doctor so we had gone together. This doc does the mammograms and results on the same day so my friend knew before anyone. She and my husband and another close friend knew from day one. For me I find it really helps to be able to talk with close friends. We even ended up laughing and joking about it (especially when my husband started talking wigs)which, for me , helps in situations like that - if I don't talk about 'stuff' I brood and worry. Those close to you will not want you to feel alone in this - talk to them.</p>

<p>We did not tell my kids, who were much younger then, until almost right before the biopsy. My son was ok with that - my daughter was very upset that we had kept it from her.</p>

<p>Keep us posted. You will be in my thoughts.</p>

<p>I have not had to have a biopsy myself, but my mother did. She told only me, knowing that I would not be upset, knowing the odds. It's unfortunate that mammography carries such a high false-positive rate, leading to many unnecessary biopsies and much mental anguish, such as you are experiencing, HeartArt. I would not tell your sons, certainly. There is nothing really to tell at this point, and there may very well never be. I hope that the biopsy is scheduled soon, so that you spend less time in this limbo. </p>

<p>I would focus on the 80% odds. Let us know how it goes!</p>

<p>I was very afraid when I went through a needle aspiration for some excessively large fluid cysts and the doctor mentioned that some of the fluid looked suspicious.</p>

<p>I was a nervous wreck but having a close friend to discuss it with helped even more than talking to my husband. She, like me, is a worrier and helped me talk out the fear. H is very calm and pragmatic and a health professional to boot, so his tone was soothing. Helpful in a very different way. Everything turned out fine, but I can tell you that a few weeks later, when our 2 college-aged kids were home for Thanksgiving, I shared my story with them then, along with a few grateful tears.</p>

<p>I wish you some peace in this process. While everyone always reminds us that the chances things are fine are very high, it's hard not to be scared. But it really WILL be fine :)</p>

<p>A friend of mine went through this and was, unfortunately, in the 20%. It was caught at a VERY early stage. She had a lumpectomy, which -- according to her surgeon -- "cured" her cancer. It had not spread to any lymph nodes. She is having chemo "just to be safe" and has said that it is not that tough a regimen. </p>

<p>Just take it one step at a time . . . one step at a time.</p>

<p>There's really no alternative, is there. I will be thinking of you.</p>

<p>I have a couple thoughts for you that might help</p>

<p>As you know the vast, vast majority of breast masses are benign. </p>

<p>The survival rate for breast cancer are amazingly good. At Stage 0/1 the 5 year surival rate is 100% and the worst survival rate was 20% at the most advanced stages and this data is from the 90s! Things are even better now.</p>

<p>Overall the survival rate for breast cancer is 85% or better. </p>

<p>So....the chances are very, very good you don't have cancer. If you did, the chances are very, very good that you would be fine.</p>

<p>I know this must be very, very scary. Reach out for support and take a deep breath. Good luck!!!!</p>

<p>I had 2 scary mammograms but didn't get to the point of a needle aspiration. They just had to do some follow-up ultrasounds and were resolved after they reviewed the ultrasounds.</p>

<p>I most certainly understand your fear. I friend of mine is just returning to work after radiation/chemo. She caught her cancer early....and she'll be fine.</p>

<p>Thinking of you.</p>

<p>Needle biopsy was very entertaining. Not done in a surgery setting for me, which was surprising! And you are awake and can look if you want. I did. </p>

<p>You've got to focus on something besides the possible outcome in the short term. I told no one, except H. (full disclosure, it would have freaked my parents/family as my sister died of breast cancer). </p>

<p>My needle biopsy resulted in Dr. wanting to do more, which was a cyst removal. Nothing cancerous at all, but something that didn't need to be in there ... and when I did research it wasn't that uncommon ... but we always think of the worst thing. </p>

<p>So I recommend thinking of the most minor thing and doing some research before letting yourself FREAK (which yes, hard NOT to, but still possible).</p>

<p>Sending best wishes and peace until then.</p>

<p>A scary mammogram is horribly unnerving. As you know, the odds greatly favor a benign outcome. I sincerely hope, and expect, that your follow-up will bring you a great sigh of relief!</p>

<p>I had a suspicious mammogram last fall, and was eventually found to have widespread (but low grade) cancer. Almost three months passed between the first mammogram and the mastectomy. During this time I had many additional tests and appointments. Though I was tempted to share my situation with my kids (middle school and college freshman), I didn't. The period between the initial suspicious finding and the surgery was full of waiting for results, uncertainty and worry. Once the diagnosis was fine-tuned, surgery was scheduled and we knew what was ahead, we told the kids. I'm glad we waited to share the news until we could confidently say that we had a plan in place and everything was going to be fine.</p>

<p>Good luck, and try not to drive yourself crazy!</p>

<p>I have a scary mammogram from the very first time I went. They did group pictures at Northwestern univ Komen Breast cancer clinic. I was referred b my doctor when I felt a grape on my boob. (can I say that?) The nurse came back into the room and said every one can go except for YOU. Man what a moment. I have a cyst and it changes each year but it is harmless. They sometimes do a DX mammogram follow up and now they do an ultrasound follow up. I have never needed a needle biopsy. So I found it
s ok to talk to friends that are girls. ( us old people call them girlfriends but now it has a new connotation) I try to leave family out of it. My mom was the same way. I only tell them when I need surgery like the hysterectomy. Well I had to tell them ... I needed a ride home from the hospital.</p>

<p>I've had a needle biopsy done three times. The first being 18 years ago, and the last one three months ago. There is a very high incidence of breast cancer in my family.</p>

<p>But what made it tolerable was the fact that I have been good about getting myself checked, and although my aunt had breast cancer 35 years ago, she is still alive. Medicine has even improved since then. So, unless you catch after it's way too late, it will be fine. </p>

<p>By the way, they were benign all three times. Now I get checked every six months.</p>

<p>My only advice is to tell your kids early, in a matter of fact tone so they know it will be okay. My mother used to hide things from us and it only made it scarier.</p>

<p>I had a scary mammogram 5 yrs ago. I received a congrats, all clear letter from the lab and a few days later, a retraction, "Upon further review..." I went from high to low immediately. My mom had two bouts of breast cancer and eventually died from another cancer. My doctor wanted to be safe and prescribed a surgical biopsy (the prep is absolutely NOT fun.) In the end, it was benign. A scary time for sure but I was so relieved. Unfortunately, now, after I've received the congratulations letter form the lab, I wait a few days to celebrate!</p>

<p>I unfortunately know a lot about this stuff. The needle biopsy is a simple procedure and more than likely won't take very long (the set up / prep is a bit tedious due to nerves, I'm sure, but the actual procedure is pretty quick). Who you discuss this with is a very personal decision. Honestly, I did not tell my young adult/teen children about the biopsy. I saw no need to worry them (or anyone else for that matter) until I knew if there was something to worry about.</p>

<p>I try very hard to keep things in perspective. I acknowledge the fear and worry, and then work on recognizing that much of that worry could be a waste of time. Take a deep breath, then another, and do remember that most of these things are nothing. </p>

<p>Fingers crossed for good news.</p>

<p>I had a suspicious mammogram 9 years ago, was told it was probably nothing & that I could wait 6 months to repeat the mammogram or have a needle biopsy right away. I chose the biopsy because I didn't want to drive myself crazy for 6 months just hoping it was really nothing. Fortunately, the biopsy was negative & all mammograms since then have been fine. My kids were 12 & 9 at the time; we told them right before the biopsy because I'd be sore & limited right after it. The 12 year old was alright with it, but the 9 year old was a little freaked out (& probably made even more scared by his older brother who liked to torture him)</p>

<p>Sending good thoughts your way & hoping it all turns out fine.</p>

<p>Dear Friends, </p>

<p>Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. Somehow I knew that if I was brave enough to post here, the kind people on CC would offer great support. Bless all of you! You will never know how much it means to hear from all of you and your experiences give me hope. I do plan on telling my sons, but right now is not a good time. Hopefully the procedure (hate that word) can be scheduled early next week and I will have an answer soon. S1 is a first year medical student (irony!) and is taking exams. He already thinks he might have every disease he is studying and is under a great deal of pressure. No need to add to his stress. S2 is studying for AP tests and finals as a senior in HS. He is looking forward to prom. I just want him to enjoy the end of his senior year. So since there is such a high amount of false positives in mammograms (great point, NYmomof2), I am going to wait until I know more before I add this too their plates. H is amazing, he is also a physician, so is and will be a great support.</p>

<p>I will keep you posted and thanks again everyone for taking the time to write. Reading your posts is so reassuring. I am very grateful.</p>

<p>I went through this over seven years ago in my early 40's. It turned out to be stage two cancer. No history at all in my family. I did lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. I just went through my check-ups and everything is good! I always told people when I was going through treatment to tell me their "happy cancer stories". I like to think I am one of those happy stories now. You are in my thoughts.</p>

<p>At 35, the age my mother was when she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, I had a suspicious mammogram that required a surgical biopsy. My youngest child was just turning three and I probably did not sleep more than a few hours from the time of the mammogram until I had the results of the biopsy. Everything was fine. It was a life changing experience for me in many ways -- so life changing in a positive way that I'm glad it happened. As many here have said, the odds are so in your favor. Good luck.</p>

<p>HeartArt, I have had several such experiences.</p>

<p>In the first case, I had a palpable mass--which I still have--that the doctor tried a needle biopsy on, and when he could not aspirate it recommended that I have it removed. I was all set to do so on a Monday, but the Friday before received a phone call from the hospital demanding several thousand dollars in advance because they thought that my health insurance would deny payment on the grounds that it was a pre-existing condition. I decided to postpone the procedure, for which I was ultimately glad. That was about 25 years ago, and I have not to this day had the mass removed. (I had had it since at least teenage years.)</p>

<p>When I was 35, I had a baseline mammogram that revealed something in the other breast. They did another mammogram a few months later in which the thing looked a little different. My doctor sent me to the top specialist in NYC, who said it looked different simply because of the varying scans, and was nothing to worry about. (Big relief, big fear until that verdict!!) Both doctors agreed that having the first mass removed would have been a mistake because the resulting scar tissue would have made my breasts harder to read. Five years later I had another mammogram that revealed the same thing. I haven't had one since, due to lack of health insurance and $$.</p>

<p>I have a number of friends who have survived breast cancer for at least 5 years, and look good for the long term.</p>

<p>Take it one step at a time. I agree with not telling your kids until you have more info. At the same time, don't leave them with the impression that you are going to conceal info from them. </p>

<p>My very best to you.</p>

<p>I like the idea of one step at a time, and to deal with whatever, as it comes.
In the early days of my mammograms with 'suspicious' readings, I freaked at everything. Now, I try to freak only when I have reason to.</p>

<p>Long story short, lots of mammograms here, lots of ultrasounds, 3 biopsies. The last one was a positive. Yep, I freaked on that, but in retrospect am a little embarrassed. I had low grade, 2 miniscule bits of cancer, probably the best case possible.
I still freaked.</p>

<p>It took a couple days, but after I really understood what we were dealing with, I was okay, and got over the freaking. Had the lumpectomy, radiation (just to be sure), and am taking tamoxifen. </p>

<p>Bottom line--- good for you for taking care of this, most probably early in the game. If the biopsy is positive, keep in mind that the cure rate for breast cancer is amazing now. </p>

<p>You can handle this. (I went by myself to get the results, if I had known it was going to be positive, I would like to have had someone with me. If it was negative, I didn't need anyone.... I know that doesn't make sense.)</p>

<p>Oh, I asked the CC group how to tell bad news to a college freshman from 10,000 miles away, and the responses were great. I went with the matter of fact, 'mom has a problem and is getting it taken care of next week. The outcome is going to be fine. I just wanted you to know.'</p>

<p>The funny thing (now that it is over a year since I finished the radiation), I forget that I had cancer. People say 'how are you feeling', and I say 'great, how are you....'</p>

<p>About 12 years ago I had a series of suspicious mammograms that resulted in having them twice a year with extra compression. I didn't tell anyone, even my DH who had lost his first W to b/c. After about 3 years the mass disappeared and then I was able to tell him.</p>

<p>I have a discoloration on my cheek that looks like a squamous cancer. It isn't, according to the biopsy, but I knew the reaction of DH when 3 different dermatologists said it was a "presumptive squamous" and I felt I just didn't want to share the mammogram findings w/ him.</p>