Probably worried well!

I am a 42 year old woman with a few queries I wondered if anyone could help me with.Three years ago after finding several breast lumps and having an ultrasound and mammogram, I was told I had gross cystic disease (especially in the upper outer quadrant of the right breast) which was “normal for your age.” I had a mammogram done privately recently which said "Both breasts show a dense nodular parenchymal pattern.There are numerous rounded opacities seen on both sides consistent with cystic changes.There are some calcifications with benign features seen particularly in the upper part of the right breast.No features to suggest malignancy."I am obviously relieved but also a bit concerned as I know my previous films were not sought for comparison as I believe is often done.I find self-examination very difficult anyway due to the lumpiness and no follow up has been suggested.I am worried because I don’t believe the calcifications were on my mammo 3 years ago and I don’t know if it is significant they are in the same area where lots of cysts are? Also,I have read that dense breast patterns also make mammograms less reliable and I assume this is even more so when “numerous” cysts are present? I realise I am probably worrying about nothing but would appreciate some advice Thanks,Dawn.

Hi Dawn
I have dense breast tissue too. I had a mammogram just over a year ago and needed ultrasound to be sure of what they were seeing. I have loads of tiny cysts and areas of calcification and these were making it hard to read the mammogram with certainty. By a combination of both the mammo and the ultrasound they were able to conclude I was fine. Conversely, last year when I found a lump they did ultrasound first, but then needed the mammogram too, again because density, cysts and calcification meant they needed both to be sure of what they were looking at. All I’m saying really is that in my experience they’ve needed both. What I’m not saying is that you should be worried. You shouldn’t. If it would put your mind at ease, perhaps you could book an ultrasound privately, or ask your GP for a referral.

Hi Carole,
thanks for your response,it’s really helpful to hear about other women’s experiences.I am glad all was well with you after the investigations.I think I will discuss it with my GP but I’m not sure how receptive she will be to the suggestion of a referral when the radiologist’s report says no further investigations are required!I will probably have to,as you suggested get an ultrasound scan done privately if I do want any further tests to put my mind at rest.I don’t know if you are aware already (I have been on google I’m afraid)but digital mammography has been recommended as the investigation of choice,especially for women with dense breasts and apparently can detect 20% more cancers than conventional mammography.It isn’t widely available in the UK yet but you can get it done privately without a referral.I contacted The London Breast Clinic today who recommend yearly mammograms for women over 40 years old and who only use digital mammography.I have already put a reminder in my diary to go to them next year!Thanks again for getting back to me and I’ll keep you posted.Would be good to hear of any further experiences or any advice you have as well,
take really good care,