I just got an e-mail from a colleague of mine that I think is very important to share so am getting it out as widely as I can:
Some of you have inquired about my absence and I wanted to let you all know that I was out because, unfortunately, I was diagnosed with breast cancer--"invasive lobular carcinoma" to be exact--which required immediate surgery. Thankfully, the surgery went well.
The reason I am making this public is to make all of you aware of perhaps a lesser known indicator of breast cancer called "thickening". Due in part to my own ignorance, my diagnosis was delayed by about 18 months!
I discovered what I later learned was a thickening in one of my breasts. (It actually feels a little ropey, but "thickening" is the proper term.) I pointed it out to several of my physicians who dismissed the thickening as nothing to be concerned with. Only recently, when it grew a nodule large enough to be detected in a mammogram, did it become a matter of concern. At that time, a biopsy was performed, which proved positive to be cancer.
Apparently, infiltrating/invasive lobular tumors have a tendency to look normal on a mammogram. When I was told not to worry about it by the first two physicians and because it did not show up in any of the mammograms or ultra sounds, I was content to be sent off with a clean bill of health. I have since discovered they could have performed what is referred to as a "blind biopsy", which in this case means they do a biopsy on something that isn't detected in the mammogram but you can definitely feel it.
We all know to look for lumps in our breasts, but how many of us are familiar with thickenings? Had I known about this back then, I would not have let my physicians pass the thickening off as harmless. The purpose of this writing is for you, your loved ones and everybody you know to become aware that a thickening can be an indicator, and if any of you are ever told with complete certainty by a physician the thickening is nothing to be concerned with, to treat it with the same seriousness as it would be treated if it were a lump.