A False Peace of Mind: Empowering Women to Know All Breast Cancer Prevention Options

She got the all-clear on her mammogram and her breast ultrasound. But her relief was short-lived. Within two months, Leslie Ferris Yerger was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.

How could that happen? She said the answer is important for all women.

“Understood.”

That’s what everyone wants to hear after a routine checkup. For Yerger, it turned out to be a false peace of mind.

“My GP said, ‘You know, you’re 55 years old, postmenopausal, it might be a good idea to do a bone scan. Just a DEXA scan,'” she said. “And that got the ball rolling because the radiologist saw something on that DEXA scan that he didn’t like.”

A subsequent PET scan showed multiple lesions on her bones.

“[I]got a bone biopsy, then the bone biopsy came to metastatic breast cancer and that’s how we found out I had stage 4 breast cancer,” she said.

The wife and mother of three was confused.

“It was frustrating. And for the most part, I just didn’t get it. I thought, ‘How could that be?'” she said.

Breast tissue ranges from greasy, which offers more contrast, to extremely dense – a murkier picture. When compared side by side, a lesion in a thicker breast is easy to spot. But in dense tissue that also appears white, cancer can be camouflaged.

“Just because a woman has dense breasts doesn’t mean she’s automatically offered additional screening that might find those breast cancers that might be missed,” Yerger said.

Complementary screenings such as “automated breast ultrasound” or A-BUS, molecular breast imaging and MRI can help identify suspicious sites in patients with dense tissue. But how much is offered — and how much insurance covers — varies from country to country.

“It’s kind of a minefield out there as everyone knows what they should do and what they can do,” Yerger said.

Instead of wallowing, Yerger went to work.

“That’s what I’m all about now, empowering women to understand what they need to know and what they need to do to stand up for themselves.”

More information:
DenseBreast-info.org
My density is important

She founded the organization My Density Matters. Programs offered include helping patients understand their mammography reports. Women with dense breast tissue have a higher risk of breast cancer.

“We have tools that allow them to search for specific words and phrases, get the highlights of their mammography report, and take action,” she said.

And she works with other survivors to raise awareness.

Yerger, who has no family history of breast cancer, hopes her history will spark widespread screening changes for women with dense breasts.

“Until that all happens automatically, and that’s going to take a while I think, women need to be empowered to take responsibility and ask and demand what they need,” she said.

Yerger takes medication daily and so far it’s been helping keep her cancer stable.

https://wgntv.com/news/medical-watch/a-false-peace-of-mind-empowering-women-to-know-all-options-for-breast-cancer-screening/ A False Peace of Mind: Empowering Women to Know All Breast Cancer Prevention Options

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