March 02, 2017 0 comments

The Impact of Breast Density – Vivien’s Story

Like many other women with a high breast density, mother and grandmother Vivien King was unaware she had dense breasts until she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is for this reason we’re so proud to support critical research into understanding more about breast density and its link to breast cancer.

Having regular mammograms every two years since she was 40-years-old, it was only a few months after her last screening that Vivien found a lump in her breast.

“I had a mammogram in November of 2011 which came back negative, but then in February I was experiencing tenderness in my arm pit. I put it down to something else, until I felt down to my breast and found the lump,” Vivien said.

“A couple of weeks later I had another mammogram, which led to an ultrasound and then a biopsy. I knew as soon as I went in for the biopsy that the news wasn’t going to be good.

“They found two lumps and the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.”

According to Associate Professor Wendy Ingman, when a woman with dense breasts like Vivien presents for a mammogram, breast density is shown as white and bright regions and unfortunately potential tumours also appear the same colour. This means for Vivien, her cancer could have potentially been missed in the mammogram she had a couple of months beforehand.

The months following her breast cancer diagnosis were a whirlwind for Vivien who underwent a full breast mastectomy in April of 2012 where she also had twelve lymph nodes removed of which four were cancerous. Later that year she also had chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Having daughters and granddaughters of her own, Vivien is empowered to support A/Prof Wendy Ingman’s research and her fight to raise awareness and understanding of breast density in Australian women.

“By having tests earlier my cancer may not have spread to my lymph nodes and I may have avoided some of the surgery and treatments I went through,” Vivien said.

“I have three daughters and two granddaughters, so for their sake and the sake of all women we must be aware if we have dense breasts and if we are more at risk of developing breast cancer.”

Vivien joins the eight percent of Australian women who are living with dense breasts and because of this have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. With your support, A/Prof Ingman is leading research into breast density in the hopes of improving outcomes for women like Vivien in the future.

Thank you for making her research possible!

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