Angela’s Corner: Stereotactic Biopsy

2012 08 16_Stuart Lake_9106

There always seems to be options in life, especially when anything medical is involved. After the radiologist discovered my calcifications, I have had two options provided to me. I could wait six months to see if they changed, or I could do a biopsy. The typical protocol would be to wait for six months and then take another image to see if change is occurring. Luckily for me, the change was already determined from the three years of previous images. Who would have thought my diligence in having my annual mammogram would catch something? Of course I did. I knew early detection would be the best kind of detection.

The radiologist told me he would be okay waiting six months since it wasn’t something he typically would be concerned about. However, since he already saw a change, he thought it may be best if we investigated a little bit further. No problem! That would be the preferred choice. Anything suspicious with my family history would be beneficial to take a closer look.

I was scheduled for a stereotactic needle core biopsy a week later. This is a procedure using a computer and overlapping imagining that will target those small calcifications. Not only does it determine the location, it also determines the depth. Now, this is where my dense breast tissue factors in. Taking individual images was easy, yet difficult. I sat in the biopsy chair for an hour with my head and neck uncomfortably turned to the side while the doctor and nurse attempted to take all the needed images. They were able to see the calcifications in a few of the slides. However, once the images overlapped, those microscopic calcifications they found earlier completely disappeared. Disappointed I was walking away without answers; I was still thrilled to hear the radiologist was not going to take a blind stab at finding the calcifications.

Soon I was in the scheduling office trying to determine the best time for a surgical biopsy. No matter the year, the months in spring seems to be the busiest for me. That year was no exception. With the end of the school year two weeks away, grades due for the math class I was teaching, and our local Relay for Life event coming up, my weeks were jammed packed. The third week in June appeared to be the soonest I could schedule my surgery. Should I have dropped everything to have the biopsy earlier? Maybe. However, I knew waiting for the results (and receiving them) would affect me more during the busy time, distracting me from what needed to be accomplished.

Learn more about Angela’s battle against breast cancer.
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