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Waiting for breast biopsy

Hi there,

This is my first time here and posting - sad to be here, but glad this resource exists.

I have been on a 6-month screening program for about 1.5 years. I'm 43 and have no family history of breast cancer. My doctor found a lump last spring. It was deemed benign and I was told to keep coming back for regular screening. I'm in London, Ontario.

Out of nowhere or so it seemed, I was referred for MRI in December due to “extremely dense” breast tissue even though I had several before with no problem. The MRI revealed another lump (different location) and I had an ultrasound last Monday. The ultrasound took a REALLY long time and unlike my past visits, I was sent home from the ultrasound with a date for a biopsy in a month. My family doctor called on Friday with the ultrasound report and the lump is “highly suspicious" for breast cancer. He didn't specify a letter for the BIRADS scale - just that it was a 4 and “highly suspicious”. I didn't know to ask more. He also said it was behind the nipple and really hard to reach. He assured me that I would have a biopsy the day of my visit, but did mention they would start with an ultrasound-guided one and hopefully it was successful. Again, I didn't think to ask what would happen if they couldn't reach it.

It seems like most people on here note that they moved quite quickly from potential detection to testing, so I wonder if an ultrasound 6 weeks after the MRI and a biopsy in a month is a good sign. It might also just be a sign of an overburdened health system!

I also don't know if I should bother asking for the report myself. I looked online with the hospital and it says that I need to send a letter and pay $30. I suppose I could also ask the doctor. He only called with the results so I didn't go in and see him. I don't want to assume 4C, but it seems most consistent with his description of “highly suspicious”. I don't know if I would even be able to know what it says anyway.

The waiting is really hard. I was preparing a job application when I got the call on Friday and feel stuck about what to do. Conventional wisdom says just proceed with life, but that kind of feels impossible right now. I'm resisting the urge to Google, but I'm also a nervous wreck. I'm really short with my family and just really lethargic. I suspect this is from the stress and anxiety.

I have no idea what to make of all this!

Amber

4 Replies

@AmberMarieON Welcome to the site. As you said, sorry you are here but glad that the people here can be a resource for you.

Unfortunately everyone thinks of family history being the biggest risk factor when it comes to breast cancer but breast density is a more prevalent problem. The higher the breast density, the greater the risk of breast cancer. The other problem is that dense breasts make it harder to detect breast cancer with a mammogram. You need the mammogram to determine your density and then an ultrasound or MRI to find any cancer. It took an MRI to find the extent of my cancer. I have more to say but I have to go for an appointment. I will post again later tonight.

Hang in there. I have been in very similar shoes.

cancertakesflight

Yuliya
108 Posts

@AmberMarieON

Amber, a very warm welcome to you! Waiting for results and tests is always a very difficult times and we all tend to think of worst case scenarios. I had BIRAD4 more than two years ago ( June 2020) and ultra sound biopsy was performed on my right breast. (Grand River Hospital, Kitchener) My biopsy came back negative for cancer. I had ten days between mammogram and biopsy appointment and results took a week. Please do bother to ask you doctor to send you a copy of your test results! Keep them all in your file.

You can deal only with what you know now, right? You can deal with the rest when you know more…

Wishing you the best! Share an update, if you comfortable Amber.

@AmberMarieON Sorry for the delay.

My breast cancer journey took longer than might be considered normal. I had blood coming from my nipple in November 2011. I had only ever heard of a lump as a symptom of breast cancer so it never even crossed my mind that cancer could be the problem.

Tests

I had multiple mammograms, ultrasounds, and ultrasound-guided biopsy (considered inconclusive). The radiologist at the hospital where I went would not approve an MRI, so I was sent to another hospital in another city. It was this MRI that ultimately showed the extent of my cancer. I was then told that there was one more test that could be done. I had an MRI-guided biopsy, so if an ultrasound-guided one does not get you results, maybe an MRI-guided one might be useful, if it is offered at your hospital.

Test Results

Yes, please get copies of all your tests from your doctor. I believe, the fee is more associated with when you have to get test results put on a CD/DVD to take to another doctor. It was a long time ago when I had to do that, so I don't know if it is the same thing now. It shouldn't cost you anything to get your results from your doctor. Some people put all their results in a binder so they could take them with them and look at them outside of just doctor appointments.

Time between Tests

I can't say what a good or bad timeframe is for getting tests done. I suspect that each hospital will be different. Why not ask your doctor about the gap between tests? A reason would probably take some of the anxiety away. Sometimes our imaginations are our own worst enemies.

If it makes you feel any better, it took from November 2010 to February or March 2011 until there was a clear picture of what I was dealing with. Some of that time was spent trying to deal with a radiologist who would not approve multiple doctors' requests for an MRI. At this point, I don't know how much of a difference that delay may have impacted my ultimate diagnosis.

On the flip side, I found a lump a little over a year ago. I had a mammogram and then an ultrasound. I was then called by for another ultrasound and a biopsy, but it was only a week later. It turned out to be a cyst, so there was a rush and it wasn't even cancer. So maybe the timing of your tests has nothing to do with how serious your situation may or may not be.

Please ask. It might help to put your mind at ease.

Emotional Well-being

But one step at a time. I used to tell myself, “Everything's okay until proven otherwise.”

I understand that it's easier said than done. I have never met anyone who enjoyed that wait. Having an answer is better than not having one…at least it was for me. Once I had a diagnosis and a plan then I felt calmer. I felt like I was taking steps to get rid of my cancer. At this point, you may be putting yourself through the emotional upheaval of a cancer diagnosis when you don't have to.

It's understandable that you may be abrupt with the people around you. You are afraid and uncertain, and you are trying to keep your emotions under control, which you can only do for so long.

The following is a link to a blog post I did about what people can do to provide you with emotional support. If you agree with it, maybe you can share it with your family.

https://cancerconnection.ca/blogs/453/1502

I have also written this blog post that might help you with some of your worrying.

https://cancerconnection.ca/blogs/453/1562

OK. I apologize for the length of this post, but I there was so much of my story that was similar to yours, so I was eager to help you in any way that I could.

Please reach out to me at any time if have any questions.

As @Yuliya says, please keep us posted.

cancertakesflight

#Breastcancer #fear #tests #worry #family #onedayatatime

Thank you @cancertakesflight and @Yuliya for your replies. I really appreciate your wisdom to not overthink it and proceed as it comes. This is what everyone around me seems to be doing, but I can't help feeling like it's so much easier to set aside when it's not you or your body. That said, there is literally NOTHING I can do but wait right now. Stressing about what may or may not come is not helping at all!

I had a good chat with a friend last night who shared some of her experience and gave me some helpful pointers for my biopsy appointment. I'll add get a binder to that list!

I have another appointment with my Doctor for another unrelated test next week, so I think I will ask for the report then. Thank you again for your replies. They really helped!

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