I got a call from my doctor this morning: "Good news: there was no cancer found in your biopsy. The calcifications we saw in your mammogram were caused by columnar cell change and fibrosis."
I thanked her, and she told me to come back in six months, not a year, for another mammogram of the right breast only.
We pause here for a moment of gratitude dedicated to the Creator and to the incredibly complex universe of atoms, molecules, cells, and organisms that She caused to be.
I'm a free person again: no lumpectomy, no change in my status as a survivor. I still have a 1-in-10 chance of the cancer found three years ago metastasizing. If this biopsy had found cancer, I think my odds for long-term survival would have gone down.
The next step, of course, was an internet search: what is columnar cell change? And what is fibrosis in a breast?
And of course, columnar cell lesions of the breast can later develop into cancer.
Here's a discussion of columnar cell lesions from breast-cancer.ca :
Columnar cells are epithelial cells which have an elongated shape with a height about 4 times the width. Columnar cells are a normal part of functional breast ducts and TDLU’s, but sometimes they develop in unusual ways, or grow more rapidly than one would expect.
But if a women and a physician are talking about columnar cell lesions at all, in all likelihood following a breast cancer screening mammogram and subsequent microscopic analysis of a fine needle aspiration tissue sample, it means that there is either absolutely nothing to worry about, or if there is anything potentially worrisome, it has been identified at the earliest possible stage, in fact, too early to even warrant further investigation let alone treatment.
And, if by chance a columnar cell lesion were after some time to develop into something resembling ductal carcinoma in situ, it would be picked up and treated before developing into anything serious.
What I had before, in the left breast, was invasive ductal carcinoma (cancer of a milk duct that has grown a little beyond the duct). In situ means still in place, inside the duct.