Dr. Terpenning recalls a memorable experience she shared with a breast cancer patient. Breast Cancer breast-cancer.
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Dr. Terpenning's Favorite Patient Success Story I have a woman who I saw a couple weeks ago for routine pap three weeks ago to be exact. And she is just a lovely woman. She was diagnosed with stage 2, breast cancer back in 1991, and I was a much younger woman, and she was a much younger woman. And we went through her adjuvant chemotherapy together because she had lymph node positive breast cancer, and I followed her for all these years without recurrent, which is a joy. She has dense breast tissue and always has, and mammograms aren’t sensitive in dense breast tissue, and so I recommend that she have an MRI. I only see her around every year to year and a half, and she is a flight attendant and travels frequently, and she is out so many years. So I recommended an MRI, since I have been able to get them more frequently with insurance authorizations, and we did an MRI. Low and behold, in her mammographically normal breasts, we found a local recurrence of that left breast cancer all these years later and a new right breast cancer, which was one centimeter. Those would have been silent cancers that would have continued to grow had we not found them. The new breast cancer in the right breast has a different profile than the old of breast cancer or the recurrent left breast cancer and the prior breast cancer, and we did core biopsies of both and they are different. So she has selected her treatment for her breast cancer. Now she is having surgery tomorrow actually, and her new breast cancer is caught early, but it still has some characteristics. It is HER2 positive, that will indicate that she needs to have adjuvant chemotherapy with Herceptin, but still, it will be much briefer, much earlier disease. I have staged her with PET/CT scans and bone scans and there’s no distant disease. So just by having recommended to her that we use newer technology than we had in ’91 or that we’ve had available to us for a number of years for a variety of reasons, we were able to detect quite early a local recurrence of her left breast cancer and her new right breast, a new right breast cancer at points where they are able to be well treated so she won’t have complications from this one.