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Do all mammogram recall letters say the same thing?

(31 Posts)
sphil Sat 26-Nov-11 17:46:00

Am very anxious, as I have just had a recall letter 8 days after attending my first routine mammogram in a mobile screening unit. The radiographer there warned me beforehand that some women are recalled for technical reasons and some because there is a potential problem that needs further investigation.
My letter just says
" Thank you for attending the Breast Screening Unit. Following this, I would like you to have some further tests to make sure all is clear.

This is part of our normal screening process and the vast majority of women recalled are found to have no evidence of serious disease "

And then the appt date (Tues)

Would the letter have said if the repeat is due to a technical reason (the film not being clear?) Or is this just a generic letter that is sent out to everyone?

Am particularly worried as I have a 'lumpy' right breast - it was checked about 6 years ago and everything was fine. But six years is six years...

Familyguyfan Sat 26-Nov-11 17:51:09

I don't claim to be an expert but I'm fairly sure they just send a generic letter out. My mum had breast cancer (thankfully recovered and five years clear) but the letters are always very vague for obvious reasons.

Being 'lumpy' is just one of those things. I am too. Worrying but not an indicator of illness in most cases.

Good luck!

sphil Sat 26-Nov-11 17:53:36

The letter has a number on it for the Breast Care Nurses who you can ring for further information - just my luck to get the letter on a Saturday!

ProperLush Sat 26-Nov-11 19:39:11

No, the letters are all the same. They can't afford not to be in this climate. I mean this most kindly but you can imagine what would happen if the letter said 'Due to technical inadequacy, you are being recalled...' the putative you would be sue-ing, citing the rubbish radiographer; if it said 'There's nothing to worry about...' yet the subsequent test revealed, god-forbid, cancer, that putative you might sue, especially if you'd taken the 'nothing to worry about' as being' in your own time and at your convenience- if at all..' and rocked up months later.

There are several reasons why you'd be recalled:

- Technical issues- the mammogram may have an area where tissue overlying tissue (bear in mind a mammo is a 2D image of a 3D structure!) might look not 100% clear- the mammographer may have had 10 mins from start to finish to 'do' you therefore hasn't pored over the image like the diagnostician did.

- There's a cystic looking structure they need to elucidate further

- There is a technical difficulty either because the mammographer can't get it perfect 100% of the time, being human, or you moved and there's some subtle image blurring!

- and yes, the unthinkable.

You have to take a deep breath and understand that it's very unlikely to be bad news but the point of a mass imaging service is that it's there to get in early if there is a problem!

I wish you luck and de-stress waves....

ProperLush Sat 26-Nov-11 19:39:51

PS lumpy breasts are absolutely no indicator of cancer. They just make breast imaging trickier!

sphil Sat 26-Nov-11 20:34:42

Thank you ProperLush - I'm feeling much calmer now. The two glasses of wine have helped too! I think the most likely thing is that the lumpy area in my right breast needs to be evaluated. When I had my initial interview before the mammogram the radiographer asked me about past history, and when I told her about the mammogram 6 years ago, she said that they were unlikely to have those results. So I was almost expecting the recall - those obviously hoping not to get it!

I've just remembered that she said that if there was a technical difficulty with an unclear image I would get a phone call, but if I needed further tests it would be a letter. So does that mean its definitely a suspicious area?

sphil Sat 26-Nov-11 20:35:03

though not those

triplets Sat 26-Nov-11 23:10:10

Hi Sphil...............gosh I know how you feel. I had my first mammogram 6 yrs ago and like you get a letter within days recalling me. Your letter is word perfect to the one I got. I just panicked and was beside myself imagining the worst. When I went back, they explained they had recalled me as the image wa not clear. They then repeated the mammo and also did an ultra sound. All was well. They said I had a mass of tissue had obscured the picture, so just wanted to make sure.....................phew! I am just thankful that they do recall to make sure you won`t slip thru the net, you will be fine I am sure. xx

sphil Sun 27-Nov-11 09:45:46

Thank you Triplets. Woke up feeling very anxious this morning. I think I am worse because I have to go to the hospital where Mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer and where she died 18 months ago - I know you will understamd this as we have 'spoken' on other threads, here and elsewhere. I just remember the horrible, horrible shock of her diagnosis and it's making me much more anxious than I probably should be. Also, someone I work with was recalled two weeks ago and does have BC - so again, my mind races.
Am feeling better now I'm up and doing stuff - going to blitz the garden and try to put it to the back of my mind until Tues.

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 27-Nov-11 17:22:55

My mother had a call back, the breast tissue hadnt x-rayed well and they did another one.

No problems at all just a blurry first x-ray.

sphil Sun 27-Nov-11 18:00:31

My worry about this is that the radiographer said that if there was a problem with the X ray they would phone me - I would get a letter if I had to go to the Breast Care Centre. Which is making me think it must be more than a technical problem.

smee Sun 27-Nov-11 18:50:12

sphil, Tuesday's not all that far away and let's face it whatever we all say you'll still worry. Chances are it will be fine, so try and hold onto that. Keep talking if it helps.

sphil Sun 27-Nov-11 19:30:24

Yes I know.

Northernlurker Sun 27-Nov-11 19:35:26

You know you have some lumpy but not problematic tissue. Chances are that's what need to be looked at again and it will be because the people looking at your scan can't just say 'oh it was fine years ago, will still be ok' EVERYTHING that's seen should be carefully evaluated. Try not to fret too much. The point of screening IS to identify problemsbefore they would otherwise become apparent. The purpose behind this is to save lives, to make people better, to be helpful. If there's a problem (and that's a huge IF) then you will be in great shape to get it fixed precisely because you've been for your screening. You may feel like the world has slipped away from your grasp a bit but actually you are in a very strong position.

sphil Sun 27-Nov-11 21:29:10

Thanks Northern ( and everyone on this thread) - thats a really good way to look at it. Am going to try to stop obsessing. Have an important work meeting tomorrow morning, so that should take my mind off things.

triplets Sun 27-Nov-11 22:23:11

Wise sound words Northern.............xx

sphil Mon 28-Nov-11 14:27:18

Rang Breast Care Nurse this morning, but she couldn't tell me anything, other than what was on the leaflet. And that it is definitely not a recall for technical reasons, though she hasn't seen my pics sad.

Had to laugh though - she introduced herself as Mrs Booby gringrin

smee Mon 28-Nov-11 14:30:59

Ah that's annoying - sphil. Will have things crossed for you tomorrow. Let us know how it goes. xx smile

sphil Mon 28-Nov-11 16:57:38

Thanks - I found out today that three of us at work have been recalled in the last two weeks. And there are probably only a handful of over 50s there.

smee Mon 28-Nov-11 17:05:25

At least now you've got others to worry with. sad

Am sure you know this already, but apparently 9 out of 10 referrals are benign, and of the 1 out of 10 which turn out to be Breast Cancer, 90% are treatable. smile

sphil Mon 28-Nov-11 18:48:21

Yes, at least the obsessive googling I've been doing this weekend has shown me that treatment is very good now.

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 28-Nov-11 21:44:50

I got a recall last summer and I found out that 2 or 3 doctors look at your pictures and if one of them decides that they can't quite tell then you get a recall. Its not just one person looking at it. Chances are good that nothing is wrong, but I still worried myself sick!

sphil Tue 29-Nov-11 08:11:21

Good lord, I don't think I've ever been this nervous.

JumpJockey Tue 29-Nov-11 08:25:01

Good luck for today, hope Mrs Booby is nice smile Just to add that I had to have several repeat smears (so a similar sort of thing as far as sudden feeling of terror...) and each time the letter was worded identically, even when the reasons were different once the nurse explained why.

Northernlurker Tue 29-Nov-11 08:27:06

Good luck sphil smile Whatever happens today it's not going to be the end of the world. It really isn't. I think you are very brave and very sensible.

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