Imaging procedures like mammograms, MRI, PET and CT scans have come under fire. Up until recently, I thought that all of the talk surrounding the false positives was a bunch of bull. The MRI I had last week changed my perspective completely. The radiologist played on my fears of recurrence. It is unfortunate, but it appears that the health center where I had my MRI is more focused on bringing in as much billing as possible instead of focusing on patient care.
My MRI experience
I had a breast MRI back in Nov. 2011, shortly after my biopsy. At that point I was still reeling from a cancer diagnosis. The radiologist said that there were a few areas of concern but it would be prudent to take a wait and see approach. He advised me to come back in six months for another screening.
Last week, my experience at the same facility was very different. After the MRI images were examined by the radiologist, he ordered an ultrasound because there were a few places that looked enhanced. The ultrasound technician captured the images that she thought the radiologist wanted to see. He was not satisfied with those images, so he came in and performed another ultrasound. The ultrasound did not show any enhanced areas or anything of concern.
What happened next really surprised me. Playing on my fear of recurrence, the radiologist said that there were enhanced areas on the MRI that did not show up on the ultrasound. He recommended that we do a biopsy that day. His exact words were “You already had cancer in the left breast and there are a couple of enhanced areas on the MRI that I do not see on the ultrasound. I would suggest that we do a biopsy today.” I was pretty surprised at that remark.
Playing on fear
The radiologist failed to take into account that I recently had breast reconstruction surgery and surgery on the right breast to make it symmetrical to the left one. The enhanced areas could be scar tissue or other tissue that is still healing from surgery.
Women who have breast implants must be on an antibiotic starting the day before any invasive procedure and continuing through the day after the procedure. This is to prevent any possible infection setting in the implants. Apparently this radiologist forgot I had implants.
Before recommending a biopsy, the radiologist should have consulted with my treatment team because I am still undergoing treatment for breast cancer in my left breast. He did not make any attempt to contact the doctors who are most familiar with my situation.
It is clear to me that this radiologist was more interested in feeding his ego and generating income than he was in my well-being. He ignored standard treatment protocols with his recommendation of an immediate biopsy. His disregard for the ultrasound being negative was also alarming. Playing on the chance that I fear a recurrence or second cancer, he pushed for an invasive procedure that is probably unnecessary. I refused to have a biopsy. Instead, I will wait to see what my oncologist and surgeons have to say.
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