The lump is there, but nothing is visible in mammo or US!

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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/16/2007 12:07 PM (GMT -7)   
I know this is a board for breast cancer, but I have looked in all kinds of places and can't find anything definitive one way or the other. I finally thought of you all. I started out here originally asking about Crohn's and UC. Any insights you are willing to share are greatly appreciated!
I have had a lump for awhile. For many reasons I was not doing monthly self exams, but decided I ought to when I started getting regular periods again. (I'm 42) Anyhow, this lump was still there after my cycle and it was bigger than it has been in the past.
I went to see my PCP and he sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound. Both tests came out normal although they did find cysts on the US. They did NOT see the lump. I knew they would find cysts because I've been able to feel them there for a long time. They get puffy as my cycle progresses and shrink back down after AF. That side is lumpier than the other. I'm seeing the surgeon tomorrow.
I've read conflicting reports:
1. A lump not visible on mammo and US is more likely to be benign.
2. A lump NOT seen by either method is more likely to be suspicious.
Which is it? I have a feeling it will be biopsied.
Please...if anyone has any ideas, would you be willing to share them? I just have a feeling about all this. I also have AS (a form of arthritis) and I've had to delay my Remicade infusions due to this.
Thank you soooooo much,

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 1564
   Posted 8/16/2007 2:04 PM (GMT -7)   
Dear Elaine...I have absolutely no experience with US, so I can't answer to that.  However, at 36 I was diagnosed with two different types of invasive breast cancer, both palpable lumps, neither of which showed up on a mammogram.  My mammo read as dense breast tissue, with no evidence of areas of suspicion.  I recieved a post card declaring my mammogram results were "normal" two weeks after biopsies were confirmed for invasive breast cancers.  The younger you are, the more likely a mammo is to miss something.  At the time I was diagnosed, about 30% of all breast cancers were missed on a mammogram. 
I think ultrasound, when used for a palpable lump that a mammo has not shown, has reduced those percentages drastically.  And MRI's are proving to be useful diagnostic tools, too.
I had the "fibrocystic breast" stuff, too, and yet I knew that the lumps I found were different things entirely.  
What is your doctor telling you?  Are you going to have the lump biopsied?  That is the ultimate guarantee that this is "nothing."  And sometimes the peace of mind that comes with a negative biopsy far outweighs the little scar it leaves.  I had another lump on my remaining breast a couple of years after my first round of brca.  A mammo showed nothing.  My surgeon thought it was nothing, too.  But he immediately scheduled a biopsy for me anyway, because, in his words: "I guess you've heard that before, though, haven't you." This time, he was right, I was wrong.  Thank goodness!  A little scar is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that a biopsy can give you.  So don't be afraid to insist on a biopsy if that is the only thing that will let you rest at night.
"There's a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker."  --Charles Schulz

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/16/2007 4:59 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Bev. I guess the thing that bothers me is the ultrasound missed the lump, but only saw the cysts that I thought were there already. I was a little ticked at the tech who pooh=poohed my concerns.

I will see what the surgeon says, but I may insist on a biopsy unless he gives me a good reason why I shouldn't. I do want peace of mind. The lump is so deep in my breast and the cysts are closer to the surface. I think that's why it's hard to find.

I really appreciate your sharing with me. I will be back to let you know what the doc says. Chances are it will turn out to be nothing, but I want to know for sure one way or another!!!


Regular Member

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 169
   Posted 8/16/2007 5:16 PM (GMT -7)   
i am going through i bit of the same.
I also have crohns disease...and is how I initially found ths site.

I recently went to the gyno for a routine, she felt the lump
had a mammo, Nothing
so I had a ultra sound...and is there
then had a mri and found 2 more.
Biopsy with aide of ultra sound...and tuesday I am having MRI biopsy
Brain tumor 1981
Dx.Crohns disease 1996
bowel resecction 2001
Thyroid cancer 2001
breast cancer .....currently waiting treatment options
seizure disorder .....all my life.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 1106
   Posted 8/17/2007 1:07 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Elaine, I'm glad you are here, this is a great bunch of ladies here! I see you on the SAA board!
I just wanted to say that I am glad you are going to tell the Dr you want a biopsy. It is the "the way to know for sure," as Bev said. Please let us know how it goes and I'm praying that it all comes out benign!!
L&H, Gail
  It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth -- and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/18/2007 1:59 PM (GMT -7)   
Well.....good news for yesterday!!! The surgeon could not find the lump and he was feeling so hard it hurt at one point. He did recheck the area with ultrasound and could find nothing as well. He feels it may be fibrocystic disease. He didn't feel a biopsy was necessary and since he was so thorough about checking, I'm comfortable with that.

HOWEVER, I'll be keeping a close eye on this area. I thank you ALL so much for answering my questions and concerns and for being willing to share with me. The SAA board that Gail and I write on is like this board----people care and are very supportive! :)


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