Cora's doctor found a tiny growth in her right breast when she was 55 years old. To determine whether it was cancer, he inserted a small tube inside her nipple to extract cells for study under a microscope.
The results were inadequate, so he asked her to come in for another visit. This time, she was given anesthesia so he could surgically remove the suspicious tissue for examination.
By Keith Ablow, M.D.It’s high time to figure out what’s making you perpetually behind. Here,
strategies to help you get out of the lateness rut.
Some years ago when I was chief resident in psychiatry at the New England
Medical Center, I decided it was finally time to enter therapy myself. I was
dating the woman who would later become my wife and I wanted to explore why I
hadn’t yet committed to her.
So I booked an appointment with a noted psychiatrist, about 10 miles from my
home, and left...
Much to Cora's relief, the lump turned out to be benign, but recalling the whole process is enough to make the now 61-year-old tax auditor cringe.
"The nipple thing was very painful," she says, associating the unpleasant experience with other cancer-screening procedures she considers torturous, such as the mammogram, which involves placing one breast at a time on a cold device then flattened for filming.
Still, to this day, Cora, much like many of her peers, diligently subjects herself to such tests. Why?
Many shake it off as a small sacrifice for peace of mind. After all, women have a one in eight lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. The disease is the second leading cause of cancer death in females after lung cancer.
Yet medical visionaries are hoping women won't have to be martyrs for long. While mammography is still widely regarded as the gold standard for detecting malignancies, an array of new or improved technologies is now on the horizon -- using magnets, electricity, sound waves, and cellular biology as screening tools.
Some methods promise to make breast cancer screening more comfortable for women. A number pledge greater accuracy and fewer false positives. Still others are whispered to be borne out of entrepreneurial motivations. Doctors dream of someday being able to take a simple blood test to learn if a woman has breast cancer, or will develop it in the future. Some even hope tests will let them tell a woman when she will likely develop breast cancer, and what can be done about it.
But word on the scientific street is that such diagnostic wizardry will not be available anytime soon. What can you do in the near future? Here are newly improved or experimental screening techniques that may help you screen for breast cancer soon.