Friday, December 12, 2014

What Does Breast Cancer Actually Look Like? IMAGES

Now that I am cured, I can show you my initial test results. When I found the lump in my breast and my armpit a year ago, I knew I had found something bad.  You'll remember I talked about that last year in this post.  I called Susan G Komen and got my diagnostic testing done.  Once the doctor confirmed that I had a lump, she scheduled me for a mammogram, even though she said it wasn't breast cancer.

Anyway, I talked about the mammogram, but couldn't explain very well what I saw at the time.  Now I have the actual images from my own mammogram and ultrasound.  What you will see is very dense breast tissue, which is all the white streaky area within the breast.  Second, what you may see is the indented area below the nipple.  That happened just in the time from finding the lump until seeing the doctor, which was approximately a week to ten days.  You'll also see tiny white micro-calcifications within the breast.  This was an indication that there may be a problem.

What you will NOT see on the mammogram are the SIX tumors I had in my breast.  Why?  Dense breast tissue. Remember that 59% of breast cancer is missed on mammogram because of dense breast tissue.

Easy to see the density of the breast and the indentation

Scattered white calcifications

Questionable density and at the top right are enlarged lymph nodes

Following this mammogram, I was immediately sent to another room for an ultrasound.  In that original post, I joked about this being the technician's lucky day, as she was training someone, and I was providing an excellent study.  The following images show what cancer looks like on an ultrasound.  The first is in my breast, and the second is in the lymph node in my armpit.   You can tell they are solid due to their grey color.  Fluid is black on an ultrasound.

This has an odd shape and grey color.
A cyst would be black and round in shape

Enlarged grey colored lymph node in axillary

That's a lot of cancer going on right there.
And several only formed in the prior week.
It was extremely aggressive and fast growing

As I talked about in the original blog post, they found a total of six tumors in my right breast that day.  And several enlarged and grey lymph nodes.  They knew at that point it was cancer, but still had to do a biopsy to determine the type, grade, proliferation rate, hormone receptor and Her2 status.

One thing I did learn is that you are given a BIRAD number when you have a mammogram.  This tells you what you are dealing with.  Many women have a mammogram and wonder how it went.  Look at the bottom of your sheet when you leave, and you will see your BIRAD number.

BIRAD 3 means that the mammogram was normal
BIRAD 4 means that there is something suspicious, but not sure
BIRAD 5 means there it is 95% likely to be cancer
BIRAD 6 means confirmed malignancy/cancer

When I left that day, I already knew it was cancer.

When I went home, I looked everywhere on the internet, and there are only a couple images of mammograms or ultrasounds with breast cancer.  I don't know why they all want it to be a secret.  I find it helpful to see what it looks like and to know what was going on in my body.  I hope you do too.