Friday, April 23, 2010 2:43 PM

A clear breast exam, a big relief

There can be a few anxious moments as a woman waits for that first follow-up mammogram after having breast cancer surgery.  That was true for Theresa Polzien who shared her story with Healthcare Heroes television viewers.

Polzien found her cancer early during her regular mammogram screening.  After consulting with her physician they chose partial breast irradiation (PBI) as her treatment. PBI delivers radiation directly to the tumor and offers a shorter course of treatment. PBI minimizes radiation exposure to the rest of the breast and other parts of the body.

After undergoing treatment, four months later, Polzien’s physician told her she was cancer free. “It’s a big relief to have that first mammogram and to have it come out fine,” Polzien said. “There was no cancer and the oncologist is optimistic that they got it all.”

Polzien likes what she’s hearing from her medical team and says her caregivers recommend another mammogram in three months.  After this year, Polzien says she’ll probably have one every six months as a precaution.

All of this follow-up care has brought some normalcy back to her life. “The cancer used to be in the back of my mind all of the time,” Polzien said. “Now I can think of other things.”

 Breast cancer signs and symptoms:

  • The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast

  • Breast pain

  • Skin irritation or dimpling

  • Nipple pain and/or discharge

  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin

  • Lump or swelling of the lymph nodes under the arm

Being aware of the body can help one detect any changes. Remember, finding a change does not mean it is cancer. However, with symptoms that might be a sign of breast cancer, be sure to visit the doctor as soon as possible.