Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mammogram: No Problem

I went to Women's Imaging at 2811 Wilshire Blvd. for my mammogram, as usual.

The office is an orchard of orchids, and there's a magnificent chandelier in the waiting room and in the examination room.  

There were the painful moments when the technician tried to squeeze as much of the breast as possible away from my body and onto the glass plate, bringing the other plate down to flatten it like a pancake.

"Hold your breath!"  And then permission to breathe again.

I'm very cheerful about these things.  

Soon I was back out on the street, enjoying the purple jacaranda trees on Stanford Avenue where I had parked my car.

A week or two later the report came:

Dear Patient: 
We are pleased to inform you that the results of your recent mammography examination are normal.

As you know, early detection of cancer is very important.  Although mammography is the most accurate method for early detection, not all cancers are found through mammography...  Perform monthly self-breast examinations...

But enclosed with the form letter was another form letter with a slightly different message:

Dear Ms./Mrs.

We are pleased to inform you that your recent mammogram was normal.  However, it did show that you have dense breast tissue.  This means that findings could be missed using mammography alone.

Studies have shown that mammography combined together with ultrasound significantly increases our ability to detect breast cancer in women with dense tissue.  We strongly recommend that you have a bilateral ultrasound of your breasts....

Please note this is a recommendation only.  Please call for an appointment, and we will schedule the ultrasound at a date and time that is convenient for you.

I didn't open this envelope the first day it arrived.  It may have sat in a stack of mail for a week or more.

I finally opened it on a Wednesday.  On Thursday, April 10, I called to make an appointment for an ultrasound exam.  The screening was scheduled for the following Tuesday.

I was mildly worried about the ultrasound: I had never before been advised to have this done along with the mammogram.  Was there something they had seen that they weren't telling me?