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Mammography uses radiation to see through your breast tissue, and it just can’t see well through dense tissue. It’s like looking for a snowball in a snowstorm. Mammography is not enough of an examination for your tissue type. You also need to have an ultrasound examination.” The ultrasound revealed a 1.7cm invasive ductal carcinoma…yes, cancer…that was later confirmed by the pathologist. At diagnosis, it was the size of a walnut, and was just getting ready to spread into Chiqeeta’s lymph nodes. She kept wondering how big her cancer would have been back in April; if it had been discovered earlier, would she have had to have those eight rounds of chemo, 30 days of radiation, and be thrown into menopause which took away any possibility of having children…all in her second year of marriage? Chiqeeta says, “The answer is probably not.” Before we move ahead to the moral of this story, here is some critical information that every woman (because we all have breasts) should know:

“You cannot tell breast density by look, size or touch. Forty-seven percent of women in the U.S. have dense breast tissue (DBT). Mammography misses over fifty percent of cancers in women with DBT, and yet it has been the standard screening for women in the U.S. for fifty years. Over seventy percent of all breast cancers occur in women with DBT. Over seventy-five percent of all women don’t know their breast tissue type. If you have ever had a mammogram, you can call the office of the screening facility and ask for information about your breast density from the report. Be aware that your breast density may be different in each breast. If you are dense (www.areyoudense.org, www.eachonetellone.org), ask your doctor what additional breast examination and screening may be a good choice for you.” ~Joni Aldrich, Advocacy Heals U

How do I know how important this is? Several years ago, Chiqeeta flew me to a medical facility in Missouri to have my own SonoCiné (meaning sound in motion) Automated Whole Breast Ultrasound (AWBUS). Dr. Kelly was initial in developing this state-of-the-art technology to detect more and smaller cancers in women with dense breast tissue than by mammography alone. I had had a similar feeling that my mammograms were not telling the whole truth. Sure enough, I had two intraductal papillomas hiding in the dense breast tissue of my left breast. After a needle core biopsy and a surgical biopsy, I was assured that all of the “suspicious” cells were gone. Unless my breast density changes (which it can do), I will continue to insist on an ultrasound in addition to my regular mammograms—even if I have to pay for it myself. This is my body…I have a responsibility to be sure that doctors know as much about it as they need to know. Women…take fifteen minutes to watch If You’re Dense, You Need to be Smart, Chiqeeta Jameson, TEDxLoyolaMarymountU on YouTube. What you learn may save your life.

Health Triangle Magazine issue 49  
Health Triangle Magazine issue 49  

Health Focus in this month is all about travel

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