Mar 21, 2019 08:03AM PurpleCat wrote:
Possibly. I had breast pain on and off for years starting in my mid thirties. Sometimes it seemed cyclical, other times it didn't. On a couple of occasions I found lumps in the painful spots, which biopsy proved to be fibroadenomas or cysts. The last lump I found was six years before my cancer diagnosis. It came back as benign, and they left a biopsy marker in there. When the non-palpable calcifications on my mammogram warranted a biopsy that found cancer, I realized afterwards that the needle had entered my skin in almost the same spot as it had six years earlier. No one at any time during my cancer treatment ever said anything about the cancer being close to a previously biopsied area, and I never think to ask about it when I have the opportunity. I don't think it was the exact same spot as before, but likely nearby, and was one of the areas where I'd been experiencing pain.
Based on what I know of cancer growth rates, it's likely that the cancer WAS already there six years ago, but far too small to detect by the mammograms and ultrasound I had at the time. It's possible that some of the pain I experienced over the years WAS related to cancer developing. But some of it was also definitely related to fibrocystic stuff. I still trust that the needle biopsy six years ago was accurate. I don't think there's any test available that can find cancer when it's the size of a grain of sand. If the old needle biopsy had just HAPPENED to scoop up the malignant grain of sand on the way to taking samples from the fibroadenoma, I suppose it would have been diagnosed and treated and I'd be done by now. But it's certainly no one's fault that it didn't happen this way. Until there's a test that can detect cancer at the one-cell stage, all we can do is stay on top of our screenings.
My take on all of this is still forming, but it's turning into something like this: By the time we learn we have breast cancer, we've had it for years. But until it becomes detectable either by feel or by imaging, we have no solid reason to believe that we're not perfectly healthy, so we might as well live as though we are. Breast pain CAN be a sign that cancer is brewing, but it is so often a sign of other perfectly benign yet annoying processes that if you get it checked out and all appears to be well, you might as well just breathe a sign of relief and go back to living your life. If it IS cancer starting to brew, it WILL become detectable at some point, and if you stay on top of your screenings, you're very likely to catch it at an early treatable stage.
I've spent many hours of my life worrying about getting breast cancer. Then I actually got breast cancer. Now I wish I hadn't wasted so many of my pre-cancer time in worry. Now I'm determined (and not always succeeding) to live the rest of my life NOT worrying about recurrence. I'm doing all I can to prevent it, and to detect it early if it happens, and there's no reason I need to think about it all the time. It's hard, because worry is a longstanding habit of mine and because now I really DO have reason to suspect any little weird pain might be cancer. But until they can find it and tell me I have it ... I don't.
Beep7bop, I'm sorry that got so long and probably off topic from your original question! You touched on something I've been thinking about and gave me an opportunity to put it into words. I hope for smooth sailing for you as you go through treatments. This forum is great for support of all kinds.