My Breast Cancer and its History: Summary









last update July 26, 2020

Copyright © Nov. 2004

Erika Rusterholz

Medical Support:

PD Dr. Mathias Fehr

PD Dr. Christoph Rageth


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Microcalcifications in the right breast:


Since 1996 I knew of microcalcifications in the right breast. I lulled myself into security if I went regularly to the mammography and could state with the radiologist that the new pictures looked still like the earlier ones. The initial recommendation, to take out the microcalcifications and live afterwards with a large dent in the right breast, I found not at all good. To go often to the mammography, however, that didn't bother me much.


Today I know that these microcalcifications should have been examined already earlier... microcalcifications can be the preliminary stage of cancer.



Mammograms of the microcalcifications in the right breast on:

Nov. 04, 1996

July  07, 1997

July  07, 1998

Nov. 30, 1999

Nov. 21, 2000

* April 10, 2002 *

Nov. 11, 2003


(*starting from that date, a 2-years-rhythm should have been followed)




Then, in the spring of 2003, the left nipple with areola became dark red and hurt. I was concerned about this, however, I didn't undertake anything. After approx. one month nothing unusual was to be seen anymore. Had that perhaps been already the beginning of the forthcoming events?


In July of 2003, there was a curious, palpable hard part in the left breast, not far under the skin, about 3 mm in breadth and over 1 cm long. It was only possible to find it when bending, if the breast would lean sideways to the left, and thus not in standing upright.


At the end of August of 2003, I showed this resistance to my family doctor. He thought that older women sometimes get firm parts in the breast tissue, and that it would be good to make the mammography, planned for April of 2004, half a year earlier, thus in late autumn of 2003. In retrospect, it would have been better to transfer me immediately for a more exact clarification of this hard part to an appropriate specialist. Perhaps at that time the tissue cells would still have been benign.


Lump in the left breast:


At the end of October of 2003, I visited the family doctor again, because this thicker part had become a round lump, about pea-size, well relocatable and very well palpable in the left breast in the upper outer quadrant. The mammography took place on November 11th. Under sonography control, there were taken two samples (Trucut® biopsy) of the lump and sent in for analysis.


DIAGNOSIS (in German)


of the ultrasound-guided core biopsy

(Trucut® biopsy 2x)

of the lump in the left breast

on November 11th, 2003


End of November: the written diagnosis recorded that no carcinoma was present. I was very reassured, I had no cancer in spite of all.


The radiologist and the family doctor then thought that this lump should be taken out by surgery, since the images were suspicious for malignancy (cancer). A gynecologist at the hospital close-by recommended just before Christmas to make a "lumpectomy left with simultaneous excision of the microcalcifications in the right breast". He would cut out generously, it would then lead to a light depression, but this would be better than a tumour. He did not believe that the lump was free of carcinoma, as the earlier diagnosis stated.


Was there still a possibility for another solution?


On December 29th, 2003, I consulted a second gynecologist with the question, if the lump could be removed on an outpatient basis and examined in order to determine whether it was already cancerous. He answered negatively and said that he would cut out the lump in the hospital and send it in for a frozen section analysis. Depending on the result, he would terminate the surgery or, with the diagnosis "cancer", he would continue and also remove the axillary lymphnodes.

At New Year’s Eve, I had already the registration for a hospital entrance in hands. – It was difficult for me to accept this.


How to remove the lump in the gland?


Meanwhile, I would have liked to remove the round, firm lump, already 1 cm in diameter. It began to bother me very much. I thought, however, this should be outpatient, without actual surgery. I was still convinced that the lump was benign according to the above diagnosis.


Now I consulted the InterNet about solutions, unfortunately I didn't have this idea earlier. Over New Year's I consulted the search machine Google with the input "breast lump". I read very much about different biopsy methods (excision of the lump on an outpatient basis, under local anesthesia). One of these methods looked correct to me. I also read that nowadays the axillary lymphnodes would not be removed any longer automatically with the diagnosis of breast cancer, because there the risk of side effects, particularly a lymphedema in the arm, are enormous.


On January 2nd, 2004, after I had read in the InterNet a description by the KSW (Cantonal Hospital in Winterthur) on Mammotome-Biopsy, I wrote an e-mail to this hospital. The same day I got the answer: "we do not perform the Mammotome® at the KSW itself, patients are referred to the USZ (University Hospital in Zürich) or to the breast-center of Dr. Rageth."


Immediately, I consulted the breast-center by e-mail because I had not yet accepted the necessity to go to the hospital. The return-mail came promptly.

Already on Monday, January 5th, 2004, the clarifying examinations begun.

Which clarifications/examinations (tissue samples/biopsies) will be necessary?

(Family anamnesis can be found in "Doctor's Info")


Neu und hilfreich- new and helpful, but only in German language:

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