Monitoring

Monitoring

Feeling safe about your on-going monitoring is so important after a lobular breast cancer diagnosis, especially if the full size of your tumour(s) wasn’t discovered until after you had surgery.

There are three primary types of monitoring: ultrasound, mammogram, Tomosynthesis (3D mammogram) and Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI).

Tomosynthesis

Mammogram MLO

Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI)

You most probably had a mammogram and ultrasound for your initial diagnosis. An MRI is likely to have been used to determine the extent of your tumour to help with surgical decisions. Not all medical centres use Tomosynthesis (3D mammogram). It is an advanced form of mammogram that produces three dimensional images

Monitoring in the UK after surgery or initial treatment is an annual mammogram to check for recurrence in your remaining breast, if you had a mastectomy, or both breasts if you had a lumpectomy.

Whilst not currently the standard of treatment in the UK, many LBCUK patient advocates have asked for an annual breast MRI, due to concerns about tumours not being picked up on imaging and wanting to reduce the worry of tumours being missed.

Studies have shown that MRI is superior to conventional imaging for detecting lobular breast cancer, especially for individuals who also have dense breast tissue (Johnson, K., Sarma, D. & Hwang, E.S. Lobular breast cancer series: imaging. Breast Cancer Res 17, 94 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13058-015-0605-0)

If your tumour was missed on mammogram or the full extent was not seen, you may want to ask for on-going annual MRI monitoring too. To help you with this ask, we have produced a template letter for you, containing some of the latest scientific evidence about lobular and MRIs, to send to your medical team if you wish to ask for this monitoring in the future. The letter can be downloaded here and please contact us if you have any further questions or concerns about this.

For women with a history of lobular breast cancer, having dense breast tissue can also make finding a recurrence more difficult. Screening Ultrasound and Tomosynthesis (3-D mammography) are both imaging alternatives that increase cancer detection in all women with dense breasts. The American College of Radiology has a fact sheet on dense breasts and imaging (not lobular specific) and issued recommendations for MRI in particular cases for women with dense breast tissue.

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Lobular Breast Cancer UK is a registered charity in England and Wales No. 1191402 Registered office: Flat 3 Beech House, 77 Edge Lane, Stretford, Greater Manchester M32 8PA