Dianne Anderson, 55, knew she had dense breast tissue when she went for her annual mammogram a few years ago. The results showed that the Ohio resident had the dense tissue, but no signs of cancer. Her radiologist suggested that she should have a secondary screening test, something Dianne passed on, thinking that the mammogram would have showed cancer.
The next year, her mammogram did not show signs of cancer. This time, however, her radiologist suggested a molecular breast imaging (MBI) scan. This nuclear test and scan is designed to spot breast cancer specifically in those with dense breast tissue. Her insurance would cover it, so Dianne agreed to have it done.
Thankfully, she did — the scan detected that she had stage 2 breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.
So, are mammograms enough?
Her story raises an important question that all women should ask themselves: Is a mammogram effective enough to detect breast cancer?
About 50 percent of women have dense breast tissue, which can mask cancer from traditional mammogram images. This is why we have to understand the risks that come with dense breast tissue — namely, that a mammogram could miss detecting cancer if you have it. If you’ve got dense breast tissue, it’s important to know about the MBI.
The Mayo Clinic recently published a study that showed impressive results to using MBI as opposed to other methods of dense breast tissue detection. The MBI showed a sensitivity increase of 67 percent compared to 39 percent in breast ultrasound, 34 percent in tomosynthesis and 56 percent in MRI. Knowing that, and knowing if you have dense tissue, it seems like a good idea to consider an MBI.
More than 20 states require mammogram reports to state a woman’s breast density percentage — if you ask me, that’s not enough to give us the protection we need.
Breast density key to detection
Dr. Deborah Rhodes, who performed the study, explained that the commonality of misdetections like Dianne’s depends on the extent of breast density.
“Breast density has been found to be the most important factor in the failure of mammography to detect cancer,” she said. According the her, the aforementioned study found that mammography missed three out of every 10 cancers in the dense breast.
“The problem is that cancers can be hidden for years in a dense breast, as it can be like searching for a snowball in a field of snow,” she said.
The MBI process
Dianne said the doctors gave her an injection of a drug to enhance the images, then she sat in a chair and placed her breasts in a scanner that lightly compressed them.
“It was not painful,” she recalls. “They had a video screen in front of me to watch nature scenes. In my case, there was a radiology and nuclear med tech with me during the scan so we enjoyed talking.”
After the scan, the radiologist performed a breast ultrasound and then a biopsy.
“Not everyone has to do those last two steps; but the radiology tech told me in advance that might happen so I was prepared,” Dianne said.
Based on all of this, you may want to ask yourself a few questions:
Do I have dense breast tissue?
Rhodes said that breast density is based on the mammographic appearance of the breast, not the way the breast looks or feels. Translation: The only way to know if you have dense breasts is to undergo a mammogram.
Should I have an MBI?
“Mammography remains the standard breast cancer screening tool for all women, as it is the only breast screening tool that has been associated with a reduction in breast cancer mortality,” she said.
After an annual mammogram, you can choose to pursue additional screening if you have dense breasts (this is known as supplemental screening).
Rhodes said there is not a consensus among doctors as to whether all women with dense breasts should pursue supplemental screening or which method is the preferred supplemental screening tool.
“Women must decide for themselves after discussion of the risks and benefits with their care provider,” she said. Risks include over-diagnosis of a breast cancer that wouldn’t otherwise cause harm, and false positive findings, which can lead to more tests that do not detect a cancer and additional costs may be incurred.
What type of supplemental screening might I need?
Whole breast screening ultrasound, tomosynthesis and MBI are the options available if you want extra testing after a mammogram. Rhodes notes that an MRI scan is typically reserved for women at high risk for breast cancer due to the high expense.
She said that MBI has a much higher yield of additional cancers detected than tomosynthesis and ultrasound. But MBI also has a higher false positive rate than tomosynthesis. Ultrasound has a very high false positive rate. At Mayo Clinic, women who seek supplemental screening for dense breasts are offered either tomosynthesis or MBI.
“I see cases in my clinic every month of women who are diagnosed with breast cancers despite having had a recent negative mammogram,” Rhodes said. It is usually always due to breast density.
Is an MBI safe?
The radiation dose used in MBI is considered safe for screening. There is a lot of concern about radiation exposure, but I think there is also a lot of misunderstanding about what constitutes a safe dose. The dose administered with an MBI is higher than for mammography, but still considered a low and safe dose, Rhodes said.
“I think the more important question is: What is the test that is most likely to find a cancer, which is ultimately the whole purpose of screening for breast cancer,” she asked. “If MBI nearly quadruples the chance of finding a breast cancer relative to mammography, alone, then I think it is an important option for women to consider.”
“It is important for women to know that they should pursue additional evaluation for any breast change, even if they have just had a normal mammogram,” she said.
Clearly, Dianne agrees.
“For women with dense breast tissue, MBI is a very important diagnostic tool in addition to yearly mammograms,” she said. “The MBI found my cancer and saved my life. Please go the extra step and do an MBI.”
(Article Excerpt and Image from she knows.com), article by: by Kristen Fischer, May 5, 2015 – See more at: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1082582/mbi-supplemental-screenings-breast-cancer-mammograms
As women get older, particularly beyond the age of 40, the likelihood of them developing breast cancer gets higher and higher- more so if their family has a history of it. In anticipation of this, they will want to undergo a breast exam at least once a year in order to check for any anomalies in their breasts. If you choose a mammogram rather than an alternative breast exam such as SureTouch or Breast Thermography check the Cancer.org article dated September 11, 2013, that tells women how to prepare for (and what to expect when) getting a mammogram in Orange County and other parts of the US:
A promising treatment for breast cancer may altogether scrap patients’ need for exposing themselves to the ill effects of radiation and chemotherapy, as well as the trauma of surgery. A team of researchers from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering found a way to partially reverse the development of malignant cells in test mice and, subsequently, halt cancer. …
An Almagest article published November 27, 2013 details the increased necessity for younger women to undergo breast cancer detection:
Whether it is a dire need or has a placebo effect, I consider it my duty to drink coffee every morning. Not just to function coherently but also because of its health and antioxidant properties.
Coffee consumption has been found to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers, including endometrial cancer, prostate cancer, head and neck cancers, oral cancer and breast cancer. It may even reduce the risk of breast cancer returning.
Some data indicates that three cups of coffee per day reduce liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent. One study even found that older adults who drank coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated) had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not drink coffee.
Dense Breasts…….very popular topic when speaking with patients at OC Breast Wellness. What does it mean and am I getting the “run around” from the medical system about the quality of the exams that are covered by my insurance? Bottom line, can a mammogram find a lesion in dense breast tissue? Why did California finally implement a law?
SB 1538 requires that following a mammogram, women with dense breast tissue be informed of the following:
• That they have dense breast tissue;
• That dense breast tissue can make it harder to evaluate the results of a mammogram;
• That it is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer;
• That information about breast density is given to discuss with their doctor; and
• That a range of screening options are available.
Once you knew you had dense breast tissue, would you have a mammogram?
Cancer is a frightening disease that typically strikes with little to no warning, and is best dealt with through prevention. In the case of breast cancer, NBC Los Angeles says that “while mammograms are not a cure for breast cancer, research has shown early and routine screenings are the best way for women to lower their risks of dying from breast cancer.” However, about 50 percent of all women who undergo regular mammograms don’t always follow through with their appointments.
In an effort to curb widespread overtreatment of cancers that are not life-threatening, an expert group recommends a revolutionary new approach to diagnosis, including a narrower definition of the disease itself. In fact, some common disorders would no longer be called cancer at all.
Cancer immunotherapy — using the body’s own immune system to fight tumor cells — may be a major part in a cure for cancer, researchers in Britain say.
Bent Jakobsen, the Danish-born chief scientific officer of Immunocore who started to study T-cells 20 years ago while working at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, says cancer has been largely treated by slicing (surgery), poisoning (chemotherapy) or burning (radiation). All try to spare healthy tissue from irreparable damage while attempting to kill every cancer cell.
“Immunotherapy is radically different,” Jakobsen told The Independent exclusively. “It doesn’t do away with the othercancer treatments by any means, but it adds something to the arsenal that has one unique feature — it may have the potency to actually cure cancer.”
I’m truly excited to be bringing you this information today about the miraculous healing abilities of aloe vera. First off, in case you don’t know, let me emphasize that I don’t sell aloe vera products of any kind, I haven’t been paid to write this article, and I don’t earn any commissions from the sale of any products mentioned here. I am, however, an enthusiastic supporter of natural medicine, and I personally grow and eat aloe vera plants in Tucson, Arizona.
Last November I received a phone call at the office, the lady’s name was Kristie. She was given my name by Robin Jones at the Living Temple. Kristie had a lump and wanted to talk to someone about alternative exams. We talked for quite a while, nice lady. The second time she called she gave me her phone number and we discussed books and alternative m
edicine and even a little bit about her lump which was growing fast. Our calls were few and far between but we did stay in touch. Each time we talked we said how we’d been thinking of each other often but just never found the time to call. Kristie was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome so she is not able to function like the rest of us. She is also on disability due to the disease.
I was exhibiting in January at Mother’s Market in Orange talking to everyone as they walked in the door, when I heard someone say “Janice?”, I looked up at this women standing behind the crowd and I just got this feeling. She said, “Hi, it’s me Kristie”. I just about flew over the exhibit table to give her a hug. She immediately reminded me not to squeeze her to hard because the lump had grown to the size of her breast and she didn’t want it to rupture. Goodness, it was really her. Very thin, my guess 90 pounds, great face and so very soft spoken. I saw her a few hours later leave Mother’s, she did not say goodbye. I called and left a message the next day saying how nice it was to finally meet her.
The holidays were here and I thought of Kristie often, she was always on my to-do list but I wanted to have time to talk to her not just rush through a five minute conversation. I left a few messages and then she called me back. She went to the doctor! Finally, but as soon as the first doctor saw her they said she had breast cancer and sent her immediately, same day, to a surgeon at St Joseph’s. The surgeon didn’t spend any time with her but ordered every test under the sun. She said she went back the next day for testing. She was talked into having a mammogram, she was told it was required by the doctor. Are they crazy the tumor is the size of her breast and they are going to smash it in a mammogram? The biopsy (5 vacuum needle tissue samples of the breast and 3 samples from under the arm) determined she had stage 3 breast cancer. When she called her breast and back were blue from the procedure, the surgeon would not talk to her……..she was not going back to St. Josephs! And she didn’t.
Months went by and we left messages but didn’t talk. On May 2nd she called crying. She was sure she was in Stage 4, she was having pain in her body where in the past, she had no pain anywhere. I persuaded her to come in to the office. Before she panicked let’s take a look at how everything looks on a thermogram and Suretouch. I also invited her to the Standup for the Cure event on May 4th. I knew she would meet qualified doctors, staff from Ultimate Healthcare and other women who had gone through the same trauma.
She came to the Standup for the Cure Event on the beach at Newport Dunes and stayed most of the day, met with a nurse practicioner at Ultimate Healthcare, a couple surgeons and Jae Son the inventor of SureTouch. She is such a nice lady; we could not imagine what the standard of health care was going to do to an 88lb lady, with no immune system, kill her we joked.
On Mother’s day I called Kristie. It’s been all this time and I have no idea if she is a mother or where her family lives. I learnt that she has never been married, has no children, her sister and mother were killed by hospital medical mistakes, no wonder she hasn’t gone to the doctor. She talked about The City of Hope and I offered to drive her to Duarte once she got an appointment. The trip was eye opening!! Not only did I learn a lot about her and her past but the medical system is downright cruel. She had called The City of Hope in January but was told to go back to the St. Josephs surgeon. She had to go above the call takers head and contact a supervisor, finally over 3 1/2 months (another long story) later she gets this appointment.
The oncologist said “we can’t cure you” after she examined her blue breast and swollen lymph nodes. But they did suggest Kristie have a bone scan and a CT scan to see how far the cancer had spread before they start treatment with 3 different chemo drugs.
I could not drive her the next day for the scans so she went alone. It was an all-day affair. Results were that the cancer had spread to the skin, bones in her spine, hip and upper leg area but no “vital organs”. So what are her options? Remember Kristie has had chronic fatigue syndrome for 10 years, she is 88 lbs. and her white blood cell count is on the low side (I read her blood report), how in the world is she going to survive 3 different chemo medicines, to just “keep her alive”? And for how long? When Kristie asked that question to the oncologist, she did not have an answer.
So here’s our suggestion, during this time of decision OC Breast Wellness wants to support her with nutritional products and alternative treatments and will be fundraising. Our fundraising efforts will include breast exams and a non-profit donation site; www.premamogram.org.
Kristie has been doing what she can alternatively. My husband is making her liposomal vitamin C (wow does that taste bad), she is juicing vegetables from my garden and the farmer’s market, she is taking Vitamin D and IP6 (http://www.naturalnews.com/024635_IP6_cancer_research.html). We’ve ordered Flor Essence, Aloe Arborescens plants, Graviola Liquid Extract and other natural nutrients because Cancer Can Be Cured.
To help assist in these plus other alternatives and for organic vegetables (which as you know are so much more expensive than the “other”); we are having a fund-raiser at OC Breast Wellness on June 17th. All proceeds will go to Kristie’s pre and post food sources……we are hoping to collect $1500.00
May 25, 2013 – Update
As you might have guessed the folks at the City of Hope did not make Kristie comfortable in continuing care. She was asked to be in a clinical study which had heart issue side-effects, she flat out refused. So we headed up to City of Hope and picked up all the test results. When reading the oncologists comments about Kristie they were just “off the wall”. I sat in that 45 minute patient exam and evaluation so where they got some of the comments in her file is beyond me.
During Kristie’s visit at the Standup for the Cure event on May 4th she met a surgeon that she felt good about at UCI. So now off she goes to another new doctor’s evaluation with all her test results from City of Hope and St Joseph’s. I hope someone here cares.
She is getting weaker by the day. The bone and CT scan showed it moved to the bones and now she is feeling lots of pain. Let’s hope that UCI has better results. Kristie is now taking Aleve first time in her life.
June 17, 2013 – Update
It has been awhile since I wrote but so much has happened. Pain is now the big issue with Kristie, especially her upper right back where the tumors are all over the skin and her hip bones where the cancer has spread. This weekend she called UCI but the oncologist assigned to her is on vacation so she spoke with someone on call and was told to call the Pain Management Center. Guess what, they are only open on Thursday and Friday’s! Guess you can’t be in pain over the weekend! She has an appointment this Friday, in the meantime she is living on Tylenol and Advil. The pain is a 7 on a 10 point scale. She could go to emergency.
She is filing for her birth certificate from Utah in case the Mexico options open up and she is drinking the juice that we are making her from the Gerson diet list of approved vegetables. She even got a prescription for raw cannabis to help with the pain plus there is evidence it might help with the cancer. BTW cannabis that is unheated doesn’t have psychoactive effects. Mother’s Market and the local farmer’s market are donating vegetables for us to prepare, what great organizations.
This is a busy week fundraising for Kristie. All breast exams are discounted and the profits are going toward Kristie for whatever she needs at this point.
The anticancer effects of IP6 are turning out to be nothing short of astounding. Research is showing that besides reducing cell proliferation and increasing the differentiation of malignant cells, IP6 can often restore cancerous cells to normality.
IP6, also known as inositol hexophosphate or phytic acid, is a sugar molecule with six phosphate groups attached. It is composed of inositol (one of the B vitamins) bound with six molecules of phosphorous. IP6 was first identified in 1855, but has only recently been researched as a preventative and cure for cancer as well as heart and liver diseases, kidney stones, Parkinson’s disease, and more. It is also a powerful antioxidant, immune system enhancer, and booster of natural killer cells. Foods that are significant sources of IP6 include dried beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, rice, wheat germ, corn and sesame.
The studies just keep rolling on in with more and more evidence showing that the breast cancer screening ritual known as mammography is not everything that it is cracked up to be.
One of the latest studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), for instance, analyzed more than 30 years’ worth of data on mammography and found that nearly 1.5 million women have been needlessly treated for cancers that were not at all harmful or that technically did not even exist.