Update: Diabetes Mastopathy, Twice a year Mammogram

Patient Expert

In 2008, I wrote about Diabetic Mastopathy, a condition that affects women who have lived with diabetes a longtime.  The condition is still with me and for my breast care team, it has become more difficult to monitor. Last year, my doctor spotted another nodule and after a mammogram and an ultrasound, they could not check off that I was clear.

It took both my doctor pointing and the ultrasound tech to narrow down which lump was the culprit for concern. The end result was another biopsy The problem now, is that I have had a surgical biopsy on both breasts, and more incisions leave more scar tissue making the mammogram harder to read and the ultrasound less effective. To reduce the amount of scaring, they decided on a core needle biopsy.    The report was more dense fibrous tissue, and for me no question about this being another case of diabetic mastopathy!

At my follow up appointment, Minna, my wonderful physician's assistant and lumpy breast hound, suggested that we bump up the ultra sound to twice a year. This lets Minna's eyes and fingers keep closer watch, until I hit menopause. While some people feel mammograms for diabetic mastopathy are pointless, what they offer my breast care team is a consistent history for looking for change. It's one part of a 3 part routine check up: look and feel, mammography and ultrasound and last resort biopsy.

By increasing the visits to my breast care team, it also allows them to chart perimenopause  changes as well. Perimenopause, or pre menopause, is when a woman's body starts a hormonal flux as it shifts into menopause. Common symptoms are irregular periods for no apparent reason, hot flashes and night sweats and LUMPY BREASTS!

Ok, so irregular has been my life's story with everything! Since I run cold all the time, warmth sounds wonderful, but are you kidding me, MORE lumps?

But the good news is that menopause reduces the size and number of lumps.

I asked if it would be helpful to have a breast reduction?  I thought I could kill two birds with one stone; decrease lumps and decrease size, since the "two jog bras" routine to run is annoying and uncomfortable. But that takes us back to talking about more scar tissue, which would make it more difficult for the mammogram, ultrasound and even palpation.

With diabetic mastopathy, I think the most important point is precaution. Just because your family history doesn't have breast cancer, does not mean you can simply rule it out. In fact, I would suggest that you seek out a clinic that wants to treat lumpy breasts as red flags.

I chose a breast cancer center, because it's their business to look at every case as questionable. It was a smart choice because they were educated about diabetic mastopathy and, in turn, they have educated me.

It has not been unnecessary biopsies, I've had diabetic mastopathy for 17 years and I've had 3 biopsies. It has been a system of checks and balances that determined the need for the biopsies.

If you think you have this condition, talk with your doctor, and if they are unfamiliar with diabetic mastopathy ask about a referral to a clinic that focuses on lumpy breasts. Many breast cancer centers are opening Breast Health Clinics, because it serves as a follow up for  cancer patients and can offer women, like me, a comprehensive office and peace of mind. I bet if a cancer clinic does not offer this service, they will offer direction to finding a practice, who will understand diabetic mastopathy.

Thanks to the diabetes online community, I'm finding other people who live with this condition and I'd  like to share some diabetes blogs about living with Diabetic Mastopathy:

Lee Ann Thill, The Butter Compartment. Double D Breasts.

Anna, known as Fat Cat Anna:  Diabetic Mastopathy

Up the Duff with Diabetes, Diabetic Mastopathy, my experience.

The Diabetes Sisters: What is Diabetic Mastopathy?  

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