Off to the GP again I go

I can’t believe I’m here again.

In 2017 I was seen by my GP aged 30 for dimpling on the bottom side of my breast plus a tiny tiny hard piece of almost gristle like material which flared up only during my period, only visible when I raised my arms up. After an exam the GP said it was just fatty tissues and a cyst linked to my cycle and sent me on my way and I didn’t think anything more of it. 

However about 3 weeks ago I’ve found a small solid lump, right at the back of my breast (almost like the area of your chest behind the chest) that I can only feel if I’m laying down and my breast tissue moves towards my armpit. The lump itself doesn’t move and feels almost rooted to my chest wall.  I’ve left it a few weeks incase it was linked to my cycle but it is still there and hasn’t changed at all.

I asked if my husband can feel it and he can, he said it’s about the size of a pea but not as round, not smooth. He also mentioned he thought an area on the other side of the same breast doesn’t feel like normal breast tissue either and can feel something gritty there too and though I can’t feel it he can tell me exactly where it is and is adamant it is there. 

Im phoning my GP tomorrow for an urgent appointment. My sister (full sister) was diagnosed aged 25 with carcinoma in situ in her breast (not sure if that is the term used here as she lives in the USA). I’m not entirely sure of the treatment she received but she’s fine now almost 6 years later. Also worth noting that both of my dads (full) sisters had breast cancer, one diagnosed at 48 which sadly spread to her lungs and she passed away aged 53. The other was diagnosed mid 50s and survived. I also have neurofibromatosis type 1 which I believe slightly increases your chances of breast cancer. 

I’m feeling very nervous. I’m now wondering whether I should have pushed for more checks back in 2017. 

What is likely to happen when I go to the GP and the days / weeks after if I am referred to the hospital?

Thank you 

Hi MrsE

First of all, well done for making that appointment. You will be seen within 2 weeks by your local breast care clinic. What you describe does need checking, though it could be cyst of course. At this point, although it’s easy to say don’t worry, that’s well nigh impossible isn’t it.

What I would like to say is that your fear they may have overlooked things in 2017 seems unlikely if your lump is small. Had cancer been present then, by now you would be gravely ill. Most cancers are quite sluggish, but not that sluggish, so put that out of your mind and regard this as a fresh breast challenge. I hope it’s something and nothing but no one can diagnose except a consultant.

What is likely to happen? Your GP will examine you and discuss a referral. S/he may express an opinion. In my case it was “I don’t think you have anything to worry about” but you may get something different. Nothing else happens in the intervening days (which will feel LONG) until you get your appointment, which may come as a phone call if they get a cancellation or may be by letter… At clinic, you’ll be seen by a breast care nurse and a consultant. You’ll probably have a mammogram and maybe an ultrasound if it’s between the ribs (one of mine was and I got a clear mammogram!!). If they suspect a cyst, they may do a needle biopsy which is painless (they say). You listen to what the consultant says but you do NOT second-guess them. If they believe it’s breast cancer (usually they can tell by the feel) they may say so. If they want you to have more tests or a different biopsy, that doesn’t mean you have cancer. It means they are making sure of their diagnosis. Then you will have a follow-up appointment to get results (take someone with you to take notes and even ask the questions you want to ask, because you’ll probably not take things in if it’s bad news). But that’s jumping the gun. 

Best of luck xx