Most breast cancer screening guidelines start at the age of 40. I was 29 at my first mammogram — starting early due to family history. I’ve learned a few things over the years regarding my breasts. The following list is what I know!
- Mammograms can squish the heck out of your boobs, but they always go back to their original shape.
- The closer you are to your menstrual cycle, the more painful the mammogram will be.
- Young breasts (as I’ve been told most women younger than 40 have) tend to be dense. With dense breasts, mammography machines have a harder time pushing through all the tissue. This makes finding abnormalities more difficult.
- Cysts are often common and can often change. Young breast tissue will continue to develop, making the cysts come and go. Between my two ultrasounds, I had a few cysts grow larger, others smaller, and even some that disappeared!
- Needle biopsies are difficult. My initial biopsy was a stereotactic biopsy using overlapping images to determine the location and depth of the calcifications. Unfortunately, once the images overlapped, my calcifications disappeared. I’m glad to say the doctor decided not to go fishing and signed me up for a surgical biopsy.
- Lobular breast cancer tends to mimic breast tissue. This explains why neither my sister’s nor my tumors were detected on imaging.
- Breasts serve three purposes: breastfeeding your infant (which I gladly did for over a year), looking good in clothing, and what could be called “fun bags” by your significant other.
- Breast cancer does not discriminate in size, shape, age, or gender.
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