My stereotactic biopsy experience
ok ladies, just home from this procedure and thought I would share in hope of helping someone in the future facing the anxiety and worry.
History: I am 49, mom had bc that presented as a lump she discovered on her own at exactly same age as I am currently, but she avoided medical attention to it for 9 years. Yes 9 years. So she was diagnosed at 58, finally facing her fear of doctors and all the possible treatments etc after what turned out to be widespread mets to her bones and the consequent symptoms sent her for diagnosis and treatment. Stage IV at that point and she died exactly 4 years later. Needless to say I have lived since with a when will I get it, not if, attitude.
Baseline mammo at 35, called back for horrific spot compression views that made me scream in pain. Not good. Anywho after that I was somewhat good at 40 and on going for screening. At 44 first call back, needing ultrasound. After going to pcp and requesting radiology report, birads 0, likely cyst. It was. But the waiting between was torture. Happily sent on my way told to resume yearly. Didn't return till 3 years later,8/18, another callback. Just more pictures that time, compressed magnified views on left showing no concern. Again sent on my way. Phew.
Next screening mammo 12/19. Third time in a row a call back. Handling it better at this point. Go in again with idea I'd be sent on my way. Nope not this time. First after much waiting while still in gown, tech came back in for more pictures. First panic. I knew that wasn't a great sign. Radiologist finally came in to tell me there is indeterminate group of calcifications on right side and biopsy is recommended.
Back to pcp for referral. She didn't seem overly concerned. Got copy of mammo report and see birads 4, more worry. Her advice was do everything breast care center recommends, they are the experts. Meet with nurse practitioner at BCC as consult prior to procedure. She is great and helps to ease fears a bit. Saying in my particular reason for biopsy 90% is benign rate. But it was 3 weeks overall of torturous waiting and anxiety. About procedure itself and possible results.
So, of course I do hours of google searching. Assumed stereotactic meant I was in for lying on table with breast hanging like an udder. Seemed like cruel and unusual punishment and many times considered not doing it. But facing these fears where my mom couldn't bring herself to gave me some small comfort, that I am strong enough to go through with it and logic told me refusing would just postpone the inevitable.
On day before, yesterday, I asked a few questions of woman who called to confirm appointment. Assuming I would be on breast hanging down table, some had to do with that. Only then did I find out I would be seated upright. Seems they should let patient know that on main info form right from time appointment is made. Small comfort but seems a bit more sensitive to patient experience and comfort, gave me better outlook overall of procedure.
So here's the play by play. Appt at 8. Arrive 745, sign some forms, called back quickly and changed and waiting at 805. Tech comes in and talks to me 807 says we are waiting for doctor. I ask if it's woman, yes. So in the room were nurse, tech and finally at 820 the radiologist. She explained every step. I am in padded chair and wheeled to what looks like typical mammo machine. Compression and views taken. Very small prick for lidocaine. Radiologist assured me to let her know of pain at any point and they would give more. Not needed at all. Pictures checked. Then needle inserted (warned and given a 321 count and explained how important not to move here) didn't feel it a bit. More pictures checked. Correct position verified. Samples taken. Again no pain at all. Same with marker being placed, no pain
840 procedure itself done. Pressure held on site by nurse, then steri strips applied. Tech told me to let her know when I was ready for last Compression and pics to verify marker placement. In about 5 min I was. Then gauze bandage over strips. No shower or lifting for 24 hours. I was changed and walking out about 850.
All in all about a 2 in misery scale when I was expecting 10. About a 1 if that on pain. Feeling no discomfort now but that could change as numbness wears off.
Breast care center NP who I met with prior told me she will call with results and it should be Friday. 🤞🏼🤞🏼
Lots of detail but long and short of it is it wasn't even as close as bad to what I expected and worried about. Also much quicker. Much love to all in same situation and worrying. Hope my sharing can help in some way.