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Four Breast Clinic Referrals in 14 months

(35 Posts)
Theonlyoneiknow Sun 09-Mar-14 20:11:15

A little bit of history. I am 42 yrs old. Had first baby when I was 37 and breastfed for 8 months, had my second baby at 39 and breastfed for 13 months.

I started getting breast pain down the side of my left breast in Oct 12, went to GP who thought it might be muscular combined with thrush (carrying baby etc) so referred me to an osteopath. This seemed to help and pain went away. It came back in January 2013 so she referred me to the breast clinic. I was seen by the top consultant in the local hospital. He gave me a thorough exam and an ultrasound and said all looked fine (couldn't have mammogram as still breastfeeding). The sonographer said I had very fibrous breasts and that sometimes there are lumps which fill with water and can be painful especially if we are anxious or stressed.

The pain then came on and off over the next few months when in April I found an enlarged lymph node in my armpit. Back to the same consultant for another thorough exam and U/S and a fine needle aspiration on the lymph node. All fine.

Roll on further to August when I was able to have a mammo as had stopped breastfeeding. I saw the same consultant again, another exam and U/S, along with a mammogram and another fine needle aspiration on the same lymph node as still swollen. All fine.

Takes me to this year (breast pain is still intermittent, occasionally need to take ibuprofen, evening primrose oil doesn't make a difference) and in January i noticed a small dent in the top of my left breast on the outer edge, just down and along from my armpit, where they meet, under the fatty bit. Cue immediate panic. Went to the GP who couldn't feel any lumps, or see the dent (said I had lost volume from the upper breast and it was just breast tissue and my pec muscles) said she didn't think a referral was necessary but I requested one as have read so many bad things where dents are indicative of cancer.

She wouldn't give me a 2 week referral so have waited 6 weeks plus for an appointment (19th March). Inbetween this I went to a different GP who said she could see the dent but couldn't feel any lump. I do have private health care but the wait for an appt at the private clinic is also 6 weeks!! So I am in both systems for whichever appt I can get first.

Has anyone else had experience of this? I can cope with the intermittent breast pain on its own but now this dent/dip is really freaking me out. Everything I read all refers back to cancer, I can't find any innocent explanations for dents in the breast. I am convinced I have breast cancer and it has spread in the last 18 months but not been picked up. I am so scared.

Any words of advice for my appointment? Or comments? Should I ask for an MRI? The consultant will no doubt be fed up to see me yet again!

Thanks for reading through my waffle to the end!


BigPawsBrown Mon 10-Mar-14 01:13:36

Well first of all you are less likely than most to have breast cancer as a consultant has examined you a lot!

Re the dent, I'm guessing people with dents caused by benign breast conditions don't often post or get press etc so google will favour those with cancer as many - like you in a few weeks! - will be told it's nothing and that will be that.

Sounds like you just have lumpy breasts and it's the lumps that cause the dents, please try not to worry

MsMoonKat Mon 10-Mar-14 01:28:41

I had a dent too. I also panicked but It turned out to be loss of volume following breastfeeding.

AnythingNotEverything Mon 10-Mar-14 02:22:26

I understand that you're worried, but as PP said, you're unlikely to have cancer seeing as you've been examined so regularly and so recently. You don't catch cancer from the clinic smile

If your doctor was worried, you'd have got a two week referral. Sit tight - it's most probably nothing.

Well done for being so vigilant.

Theonlyoneiknow Mon 10-Mar-14 09:21:12

Thank you so much for your replies - they are really appreciated.

I stopped breastfeeding last August so am hoping it's just loss of volume in my upper breast that is causing the skin contour changes. My left breast is so much more lumpier than my right though, the difference is quite uncanny! I can feel lots of lumps and bumps.

I am also genetically predisposed to lipomas which is hopefully what a lot of the lumpy bumpy bits are.

Elibean Mon 10-Mar-14 09:47:49

Another one who has experienced lumpiness, dips, dents, dimples, nipples that do weird things, and pain. All down to hormonal changes, ageing, and post-breast feeding and all in my 40s.

And all checked (each time) and always so far fine. I totally understand the worrying, but it really does sound normal (for you) and as you've had thorough checks, ok smile

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 10-Mar-14 11:54:52

IME if there is any doubt in the surgeons mind they take the lump out. I had a lump clear mammogram, clear ultrasound, fine needle aspirate normal tissue. Surgeon not happy second fine needle aspirate normal tissue. Surgeon still not happy core biopsy normal tissue.
The surgeon then told me he was still not happy and the lab can only analyse the small part they get he just felt the lump was wrong. So I had an excisional biopsy where they remove and look at the whole lump.
The surgeon was right it was nasty, but removal was currative.
From what I have experienced if there is any doubt they will pursue further diagnosis and ultimately removal.

realisationoverload Mon 10-Mar-14 13:56:30

I have had repeated referrals. Slightly different to you but I am lost in a system that is good for diagnosing cancer quickly but frankly crap at dealing with other breast conditions because once you dont have a cancer diagnosis - you are discharged.

I have pain in my left breast and have had for several years. I also have lumps that come and go. The problem is they come and stay for 3/6/9 months - so not really easy to ignore. Bet the day I do will be the day I shouldnt.

I have swollen lymph nodes in my arm pit and have had for 6 years. No one can tell me why.

I really feel for you. I have been to breast clinic more times than I remember. I seriously have lost count and I cringe when I find a lump or my pain increases to the point I need to take myself back to the GP because I am so embarrassed.

I had to wait 6 months for my last referral which I was led to believe would not be the standard breast (cancer) clinic. However, when I got there thats what it was - the one stop breast cancer diagnosis clinic and once again - because I was clear of cancer (thank god) I was immeadiately discharged and my problem and pain continues. As far as I am aware - (and my GP seems lost too) there is not slot for people like us who obviously have some kind of breast condition causing us pain and lumps and worry and stress because th budget is all aimed at reducing breast cancer deaths.

I really hope you get some better advice and answers than I have had. Good luck.

Theonlyoneiknow Mon 10-Mar-14 20:01:34

Thank you for your replies. Am sure the consultant will be thinking 'not again' when he sees my name in his diary!

Good point about the fact there isn't really anywhere for women with other breast problems. Each time I have just been told to take evening primrose oil and that was all they could do. My swollen lymph node has never gone back down to its normal size either. I know what you mean about being embarrassed about going to GP time and time again. I said to the last one I saw that they will soon be saying "oh you see her this time, I did it last month!"

It is also a vicious circle, the pain, lumps, and now this dent brings on more anxiety and stress which is turn make the pain worse! I hope the consultant can see the dent! It is obvious to me though but the first GP couldn't see it the second one could.

It is a week on Wednesday until my appointment. Normally with my work private health care you are seem in a week. There is now a shortage of breast consultants at the bupa clinic as some have left, so now only one for the whole city it would seem!

Am also perimenopausal, periods have suddenly gone from 28/29 days to 36/37 days so that might be making things worse

Theonlyoneiknow Sat 15-Mar-14 21:30:17

My appt is next week, am bricking it :-(

How can my breast give me so much gip, yet nothing serious be wrong with it! that's what I am struggling to get my head around. Once is so much lumper than the other, the pain and also the strange dip at the top. Sigh. I just have a horrible feeling in my stomach.

BetsyBoop Sun 16-Mar-14 07:13:36

I will start by saying with all the checks you've had it's probably nothing again.


You can get what they call "Mammographically Occult Breast Cancers" where they can't be seen on mammogram. This is typically lobular breast cancer as it grows in sheet/strands rather than forming a lump. In your shoes and with dense lumpy breasts I would be aking for an MRI scan. (I say this as someone who has recently finished treatment for lobular breast cancer which was visible on mammogram as "something dodgy looking" but full extent could only be seen by MRI, so I am probably somewhat biased to "caution first"!)

Theonlyoneiknow Mon 17-Mar-14 10:43:07

Thanks Betsy, i just hope the consultant can see the dent (one GP could, one couldnt) and feel my various lumps. Am tempted to mark agree they are before i go in as i always get flustered and cant find them during appts.

Glad to hear you have come through the other side of treatment. I hope all is ok now, thanks so much for posting x

Theonlyoneiknow Tue 18-Mar-14 13:31:14

My appt is finally tomorrow evening. Am feeling so nervous already, somehow this one feels different. I didn't have the indent at the other appts. Would it be silly of me to mark on where I can feel the lumps so make sure I can find them at the appt? So scared.

BetsyBoop Tue 18-Mar-14 15:12:01

If marking them means you don't have to worry about finding them then go for it I say.

If you want to please feel free to come and wait with us on the tamoxigang thread, we all understanding how awful the waiting is and are good for handholding and brew and cake

Theonlyoneiknow Wed 19-Mar-14 15:18:34

Thank you Betsy.

I can feel my anxiety levels rising now. Will need lots of rescue remedy to get me through the afternoon. I wish I didn't burst into tears everytime I am sat in front of someone from the medical profession.

Theonlyoneiknow Thu 20-Mar-14 21:14:11

So I saw the amazingly kind and gentle consultant last night (fourth time he has seen me!) He could see the dent but wasn't that concerned and said that it could very well be gravity with age, pregnancies and breast feeding. He spent a good while examining both breasts and couldnt feel anything suspicious. He wants me to have another ultrasound though but unfortunately all the radiologists were at a conference last night so I will have to go back
Do you think I should still ask if I could have an MRI ?

BetsyBoop Thu 20-Mar-14 23:06:23

I would ask the radiologist what he/she thinks when he/she does your ultrasound. They are the experts on imaging. (Mine basically told me when he did the u/s that it was most probably cancer, but if the biopsies confirmed it he would be recommending MRI as he wasn't happy the mammo or u/s were giving an accurate picture. He was right on both counts)

An unworried consultant is a good thing though. smile

Theonlyoneiknow Thu 20-Mar-14 23:52:49

Thanks Betsy, I really appreciate your posts.

The consultant is the nicest member of the medical profession I have ever met (personally, not included when I've take DC to the GP or hospital). He doesn't make me feel like an idiot for crying and is so calm and kind. When I said to him I had had a four week wait to see him (privately, was much longer on NHS) he said that he didn't realise and anytime I had any concerns I should just go and wait outside his room after a certain time on his clinic days and he would see me. I do trust him.

I am on hols next week so unfortunately will need to wait until I get back! More waiting! I then got an NHS appt through for a mammogram which my GP had put through. I had one last August so will speak to the consultant and see of he thinks I need another, guess depends on his the U/S goes.

Because of the ongoing issues I have with my left breast - pain, lumpiness etc he said he would be happy to see me yearly for an examination and check either NHS or privately.

Theonlyoneiknow Thu 03-Apr-14 23:43:44

Ok so my ultrasound scan is tomorrow. The dent is still there, very visible (to me). The consultant didn't think it was of concern but still wants me to have a scan.

During all this my NHS mammo apt came though (my GP referred me to both NHS and private due to the long waiting time for private here). It is in two weeks. I don't know what to do, I last had a mammo in sept last year and it was ok. Should I go and have another one? Or wait and see what the doctor who is doing the ultrasound says (slightly complicated as that it private and the mammo is NHS). Are there risks to having two mammos in six months?


BetsyBoop Sat 05-Apr-14 06:49:11

Sorry only just seen your post. I would have suggested asking the radiologist who did the u/s what he/she thought as they know if there is anything they can see that they are not 100% sure about.

How did the u/s go? I hope everything was ok and you feel reassured.

BetsyBoop Sat 05-Apr-14 06:51:25

Oh and re an extra mammo, yes it is more radiation, but minimal, probably no worse than going to live in Cornwall for a couple of months (assuming you don't live there already!)

Theonlyoneiknow Sat 05-Apr-14 07:58:22

Thanks Betsy, the radiologist couldn't see anything of concern and said she didn't think I needed a mammo but it would be up to the consultant to see what he thinks. I don't have another appt with him yet though.

Do I ask for an MRI or just accept that I have one painful breast that looks a bit different to the other as the consultant and radiologist seem happy? I do feel reassured but don't know for how long!

BetsyBoop Sat 05-Apr-14 08:46:14

Happy radiologists are good smile

Re MRI/mammo - I would talk it over with the consultant stressing the need for peace of mind. A good question is always "if it were your wife/mother/daughter in my shoes what would you recommend?" if they are totally happy/confident they would say "absolutely no more scans" - great, if there is the tiniest sliver of "well for peace of mind I might..." you have your answer.

Worriedkat Sat 12-Apr-14 18:28:24

I could have written your post. I have had right breast pain for nearly 2 years, comes and goes a bit, not cyclical. I am 39. I also saw a dent one morning but it went away by lunchtime, which was odd. I take ibuprofen and eve primrose oil too.

The breast also changed 2 years ago, became fuller, heavier, the nipple is more downward pointing than before. There is also a slightly discoloured patch next to the nipple.

Like you, I saw the top consultant in my county who did a thorough exam, u/s and mammo. All clear. Radiographer also couldn't see anything nasty.

I am worried about inflammatory bc, but can't believe i'd still be here 2 years later. Or that the consultant would discharge me if pain was a precursor to cancer developing. I am going back to go next week as I have also developed indigestion and am worried its bc spread to abdomen (I do suffer health anxiety and that's what my mother had too).

Can't believe its hormonal either, can't understand why it'd only affect one side.

How are you getting on?

Theonlyoneiknow Thu 17-Apr-14 15:32:38

Hi worried, the pain is horrible isn't it sad it does sound very similar to my current experiences.

My consultant has reviewed the U/S and thinks, although nothing suspicious can be seen, I should have another mammogram. This does concern me as I had one last August so it is only 8 months ago and I have read that the radiation from mammograms can in itself be harmful.

I really don't know what to do. I obviously need to attend for the mammo as would never forgive myself if something cropped up later and could have been found here and something could have easily changed over the last 8 months.

I think if it was IBC it would be very obvious? From what I can gather it is very aggressive so would be apparent if you had it?

Have you had your appointment this week?

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