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Mindy’s Story is a Reminder that Women Should Get a Baseline Mammogram by Age 40


 

In June, 2009, a few days after her first “baseline” digital mammogram, 40 year old Melinda “Mindy” W. of Bel Air was scared when the staff at Advanced Radiology’s Medical Arts Breast Center called her to come back for additional views. As a CT technologist, she knew what callbacks could mean. 
 
Even after the second mammogram, Mindy didn’t really expect any bad news. She certainly wasn’t prepared to hear that the amazingly clear digital images revealed suspicious tiny calcifications or densities characteristic of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a common non-invasive cancer that originates in the milk ducts.   
 
Luckily, Judy Destouet, M.D., FACR, chief of mammography for Advanced Radiology, was there on the day of the diagnostic mammogram to review the findings with Mindy. 
 
“She was wonderful,” said Mindy. “They found two areas in my right breast that were concerning, and one was right next to the chest wall.”
 
Studies have found that digital mammography is especially useful for young women like Mindy, who have denser breast tissue than older women. It provides sharper images and more accurate interpretations. The images are displayed on a computer monitor within seconds, creating a faster mammography experience for patients and permitting images to be sent and stored electronically. 
 
“Dr. Destouet recommended a stereotactic biopsy to examine the suspicious areas. When I got the results of the biopsy, I was shocked,” Mindy exclaimed. “The biopsy confirmed the findings of the digital mammogram. My sister also had microcalcifications in a breast, but she was found to be free of cancer. I expected to hear the same thing.”
 
Mindy was referred to Dr. Lauren Schnaper at GBMC for surgery. Because the cancer was so small, Mindy was eligible for a lumpectomy, which is removal of only that portion of the breast that is involved with cancer and a surrounding small rim of normal tissue. Fortunately, the lumpectomy found that the other calcifications near the chest wall were benign and that the stereotactic core biopsy had removed all of the other cancerous tissue.
 
Dr. Destouet noted, “Detecting DCIS early allows us to provide treatment that can prevent invasive breast cancers from occurring later in life.”
 
Mindy’s cancer was caught early enough that she could avoid radiation and chemotherapy. She will take Tamoxifen for several years to help prevent future problems, and she will return for periodic diagnostic mammograms and oncology visits.

"My whole experience at Advanced Radiology and GBMC was wonderful,” Mindy exclaimed. “Especially as the mother of two daughters, I’m really grateful to have caught this early.”