Positive Mammogram/negative ultrasound and dismissed

I feel very fortunate that I have come across this forum and just looking for some support, similar stories and outcomes. Monday i was phoned from a mammogram screening clinic to say they had viewed a “mass” on my left breast that needed further investigation. I was then booked in urgently at the breast screening hospital Wednesday. I took a work colleague who is a specialist nurse consultant for support. I was taken through for a 3D mammogram and the radiologist asked if I would like to see the mass that was seen on the first lot of imagining. She showed me and it looked huge! it was however only 12mm. She then took only 3 pictures of my left breast. She said it could clearly be seen on the 3D and the doctors/radiologists would view. I waited about 4 hours and was then taken into a room with my friend and a breast physician. She didn’t mince her words, she said you have Breast Cancer and we are looking at a category 5. My friend questioned her on the likelihood of it being benign and she said you’re a nurse, it’s not. She then went through all of my referrals and the appointments she had made the next day for me to see a breast oncologist, surgeon, MRI referral and referral for counselling. She confirmed my GP and Breast surgeon and said they were good friends and she would phone and I would be well looked after. She then did a physical exam and said she could feel it and marked it for a core biopsy and ultrasound. Waited another two hours and then was called in a surgical room. my friend again was allowed to come. They had 4 other people in the room. The radiologist started the ultrasound, kept checking the mammogram and going over and over my breast. Said she couldn’t see anything and nothing was there. I was clear. Told me to get dressed and then said i should be lucky i don’t have cancer. She told me to have another mammogram in 12 months. I am absolutely shocked and confused. I then had a phone call from the surgeon the next day to say the physician had called her and She was organising an MRI. Which is Wednesday. The hospital didn’t do an MRI because the machine was broken! the referral says down graded to category 2 and query lesion. Can anyone give me any reassurance or had anything this disastrous happen? If you have read this far i’m very impressed!! Would love some kind of clarity that this is normal. How do you tell a patient they have cancer without a biopsy and then tell them they’re ok? 

Wow! What a rollercoaster of a day you had. I hope the MRI scan can clarify what exactly is going on.

I wish you all the best

Dear Kate,

My heart goes out to you, can’t believe what I’m reading you need some advise, maybe a second option all these hours at the hospital, just wondering if notes have been mixed up with this outcome what’s going on.

Thinking of you, wishing you well. Please keep posting and let us know the outcome 

with love and biggest hug Tili :rainbow: :rainbow:

Maybe give the nurses a call on this site this morning for a bit of reassurance 

Hi Kate

A diagnosis of breast cancer in itself is very hard to take but being messed about makes it even harder, even when you have good support with you. However - and I’ll be blunt - this is how it is and most of it is unavoidable. Each diagnosis is unique. Much of it initially depends on the interpretation each one of the specialists will put on things. It’s only when things are whittled down to scientific specifics like histology and pathology lab tests that the certainties are revealed. And the machinery breaks down, because they are very delicate precision instruments. Patients who have radiotherapy could regale you with tales of waiting all morning because one machine is out of commission and everyone is affected!

It is quite common, unfortunately, for yes/no/maybe opinions to be expressed. If you are lucky, you will have sympathetic people taking you through the ramifications and keeping your sensitivities (meant in the best way) in mind. But, as you found, even though they managed to cram all that into one day (which is pretty impressive, even if it didn’t feel it) it is frightening and painful. I’ll tell you a bit about my experience:

I had 5 different diagnoses in 4 weeks. I took the private route, assuming it would be quicker and more tailored to my specific needs. It started with my GP saying she didn’t think I had anything to worry about as, although she could feel a lump between my ribs, she believed it was scar tissue from having a large fibroadenoma removed decades before. All I had were two unusual freckles that had suddenly appeared on my areola and a clear mammogram a few months before. The private breast consultant, when he came back from his holiday, expressed the same opinion, supported by the radiologist who said my ultrasound was clear. They did another mammogram and that too was clear. You can imagine my relief - my mum had bc twice. The consultant did a biopsy of the freckles thank god. The following week, he said he was stunned and sorry but I had breast cancer and gave me my options, nothing too radical.

I asked about the clear ultrasound and he said they’d do another one but the nurse warned me that this radiologist was unpopular because patients thought he was inconsiderate. He was ‘brutal’ but he found two lumps, one between my ribs, one running from nipple to armpit. He did a sentinel node biopsy which showed not only did I have bc, but it had already spread to my lymph nodes. So nothing to worry about had now changed to needing a full mastectomy and a full axillary clearance where they found 19 of my 21 lymph nodes were infected. To cut a long story short, I had both types of cancer, lobular and ductal, one hormone positive and one triple negative. The full works had to be ‘thrown at it’ to use their expression so I transferred over to the NHS as the private oncologist worked in both and advised this. They were wonderful, way better than the private staff.

I’m not making this about me. I’m trying to show how specialists are human and diagnoses from scans are only as good as the people doing them. I did put in a complaint about the first radiologist, more concerned about keeping his patient happy than delving deep as he should have. In your case, it’s the conflicting opinions that are so shocking and the manner in which information is being given to you. A cancer diagnosis should always be delivered face to face by a consultant. You probably won’t get the results of the MRI immediately - radiologists are not meant to give opinions to patients - but the way this hospital worked on you last time, maybe you will be very fortunate and be told the same day. I hope there is a simple explanation but it may unfold slowly, as mine did. On the other hand, it may have a simpler explanation with a great outcome.

You may be angry at them and the conflicting opinions thrown at you and you are entitled to complain via the hospital’s PALS service, but people are fallible and breast cancer is not always easy to diagnose. You were seen remarkably quickly and they packed a lot into one appointment. That’s not how it usually works. Maybe they should have held back rather than expressing unsupported diagnoses. However, the picture is looking a lot better for you now, downgraded and possibly not even breast cancer - breast lesions have many causes and explanations that are not breast cancer and they are very common. Let’s hope you will be lucky. Remember that 60-90% of referrals turn out to be benign cases, not breast cancer.

Meantime, stay off Google - it is NOT a good source of information for people in the early stages of diagnosis and plays havoc with your emotions (because it has none). Maybe find ways to distract yourself, practise meditation, mindfulness, go running, bake - whatever works for you - and let’s hope for a good outcome for you. Keep us posted!

Wishing you all the best, and sorry for the rambling post,

Jan x