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Why I opted out of a Mammogram

Mammograms aren’t something that’s really on a woman’s radar when they’re in their 20’s or 30’s. We know the time will come when a doctor will send us for one and in the back of my mind I’ve known that I wouldn’t be getting one when that time came but it wasn’t something I really thought about or what I would do instead. Until a few months ago, when lumps were found in each of my breasts. One was large and painful and looked like it contained liquid, which usually signifies nothing more than a cyst but the other one that I didn’t even notice didn’t move around and was completely solid, is the one that scared me.

I was sent for an ultrasound but insurance wouldn’t cover an ultrasound if I didn’t get a mammogram at the same. I did some research and went out of pocket to get a Sono Cine Ultrasound and when the ultrasound was inconclusive I went in for a biopsy which found both lumps to be benign.

Some may think that not getting a mammogram is a stupid move but there’s something about putting radiation right into my breasts that just didn’t feel right. Apparently a mammogram produces as much radiation as one thousand chest x-rays and studies have shown that mammograms may actually be responsible for an increase in breast cancer.

 This is a wonderful article that goes into the dangers and side effects of mammograms and sites research and specific studies.

Here is another great article  on 5 facts you need to know about mammograms before getting them done.

While I was getting my biopsy done and I was being grilled about my choice of not getting a mammogram the doctor told me that ultrasounds are more accurate than mammograms, especially for women with dense breasts. If they’re not even accurate why do we keep radiating our breasts? I think its insanity.

I’m in no way saying you shouldn’t get your breasts checked, I’m saying you might want to try a safer option instead. Like the Sono Cine Ultrasound, or Thermography ( which identifies thermal emissions in your body that can indicate a problem.

 

Whatever you choose to do just don’t go into it blind, do some research and think about the amount of radiation you’re directing right into your breasts. Talk to your doctor and see if any other options are a good choice- my radiologist suggested I think about having an MRI done regularly to avoid the mammogram but from my understanding they tend to have a high rate of false positives as well. I have to monitor my lumps regularly to see how they change and in the future I’ll probably do screening with thermography.

 

On a side note, right before beginning my ultrasound I was asked if I would be OK with having a titanium market placed in the lump- that way if it is cancer they know what to take out and if it’s not and they find it again in a few years they know that that particular lump has already been evaluated. I was totally stumped, I wasn’t expecting that question since I thought I was having a fine needle aspiration biopsy where they just stick in a needle and suck out a little piece of the lump. I had one of those in my early twenties so I wasn’t too freaked out about the actual biopsy process. Instead, this time I had a core needle biopsy where they make an incision and remove 5 samples of each lump. Since they’re already in there through the incision it’s easy to stick in a little piece of titanium.

Since I wasn’t prepared for that question I asked for some time to think about it as I freaked out about getting those incisions. I ended up deciding I didn’t want to have those things in my body for the rest of my life without knowing the possible side effects and since then I’ve found some information about people complaining of side effects after having them put in. So if you’re going in for a biopsy I urge you to do some research and be prepared for that question so you don’t panic like I did.

 

 

 


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