Breast cancer survivors urge women to talk to doctors about their imaging after her mammogram did not go far enough – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) – Every October we see products and shop windows decorated in pink; 5Ks and fundraisers with that signature band.

The importance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month cannot be underestimated, especially the message of annual breast cancer surveys.

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Morning Insider Lauren Victory shares a powerful story about a suburb whose mammogram did not go far enough.

“I was never so excited about a birthday,” said Cheryl Fortier of Frankfort.

Her 50th birthday bash was definitely an explosion, but the celebration was extra special because it was something she might have previously taken for granted.

“Having a cancer diagnosis and just going through what I went through, it just changes your perspective on just about every day,” Fortier said.

Her story begins in the summer of 2020 at her annual mammogram screening.

“Of course you have a little anxiety. You ask for good results, ”said Fortier.

And she had good results. The mammogram showed no growth. Everything worked fine.

Not so fast, thought Dr. Miraj Shah-Khan, from Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital.

“After reviewing her imaging, it was clear that she had a high mammographic density,” said Dr. Shah-Khan.

(Photo provided to CBS)

It’s another way of saying that Fortier had dense breast tissue. It appears white on mammograms. Dr. Shah-Khan, a breast surgery oncologist, explains that a mammogram can more easily see through gray, oily areas that make up most breasts. Something could be hiding in the denser white spots.

So the doctor ordered an ultrasound of Fortier’s breasts using a different machine and technology. Look and see, that test revealed a lot.

(Photo provided to CBS)

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“You can clearly see that it stands out in this patch of otherwise normal breast tissue,” said Dr. Shah-Khan.

It was breast cancer in the first stage. Who knows how much it could have grown and where it could have spread if it had not been captured until Fortier’s next mammogram, which would have been a year later.

A follow-up MRI examination confirmed the tumor.

“Dr. Shah-Khan, in essence, that she was an advocate for my health and was such an amazing surgeon, she saved my life. I tell her that every time I see her, ”said Fortier, who chose a double mastectomy after the discovery. She had had a few biopsies from her breasts before (all turned out to be benign), but would not take her chances after this malignant discovery.

The mother of three girls is now cancer free. She shares her happy ending in light of a troubling statistic: about 50% of women have dense breast tissue and may need a closer look.

“It is important for women to talk to their doctors about their imaging,” said Dr. Shah-Khan.

It is also crucial that women 40 and over get breast samples once a year.

Research has shown that women with higher breast density are at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

ONE 2015 survey found more rates of dense breast tissue in black women than in white women.

Some resources for breast cancer:

CDC on Breast Cancer Awareness

American Cancer Society on Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Susan G. Komen Foundation


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