Mam­mo­gram didn’t de­tect can­cer­ous lymph nodes

Toronto Star - - OPINION -

Re The can­cer risk women need to know about,

Oct. 30 For 20 years or more, I had an­nual mam­mo­grams at the CIBC Breast Can­cer Cen­tre at St. Michael’s Hospi­tal. My last clear mam­mo­gram was in Fe­bru­ary 2014. In Septem­ber of that year, I found a lump and in Novem­ber, a 15-cen­time­tre tu­mour was re­moved from my breast as well as 14 pos­i­tive lymph nodes.

Even my sur­geon was shocked. It wasn’t a se­cret that I had dense breasts. I was also told that cal­ci­fi­ca­tion iden­ti­fied on the mam­mo­grams was noth­ing to worry about.

Since the surgery, the can­cer has mi­grated to the lin­ing of my stom­ach and my bowel. This metas­ta­sis was also un­di­ag­nosed for over a year, de­spite much phys­i­cal dis­com­fort and sev­eral CT scans. It was my natur­o­pathic doc­tor who sug­gested get­ting a gas­tro-en­doscopy/colonoscopy, which was where the prob­lem was fi­nally iden­ti­fied.

Years ago, a nurse prac­ti­tioner used to do the pre­lim­i­nary breast ex­am­i­na­tions man­u­ally be­fore the pa­tient was sent to see the tech­ni­cian and mam­mo­gram ma­chine. Es­pe­cially in the case of dense breasts, this phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion by ed­u­cated hands was crit­i­cal, in my opinion. It’s cost­ing the med­i­cal sys­tem much more now to keep me alive than the pay­ment of th­ese nurses’ salaries. Alexa DeWiel, Toronto

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