Karen’s Story

June 8, 2023


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I started having regular mammograms at the age of 47 because my mother had breast cancer at 57. All the mammograms were clear as read by the radiologist. My most recent one was April 27, 2022 and it also was clear. Two weeks later, I noticed my breast was very misshapen. I saw my nurse practitioner who referred me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed a 9cm mass which, on biopsy, turned out to be triple negative breast cancer which had also spread to my lymph nodes. I asked the radiologist why such a large mass wasn’t visible on the mammogram and she said because I had dense breasts.

Pathology determined that my tumour was mixed ductal cell and lobular cell. The lobular cell component also makes it difficult to detect by mammogram. Since then, I have had chemo, a double mastectomy, radiation, and will soon be going on oral chemo. I’m certain, that if my earlier mammograms had been followed up with ultrasound. based on my breast density, the tumour would have been detected much sooner.

As it stands, my prognosis remains uncertain, given the aggressive nature, high recurrence rate and poor prognosis of triple negative breast cancer. Earlier detection could have mitigated all of that. Ultrasounds should be standard of care for EVERY woman who is identified as having even moderate breast density. No one ever told me I had dense breasts, and I was certainly never given a score for my breast density. I have received outstanding care for my breast cancer, I just hope it didn’t come too late.