MRI helps Cape Coral woman find breast cancer

Author: Amy Oshier Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

The death rate from breast cancer has dropped by 43% over the past three decades due in large part to mammograms.

But women with dense breast tissue still have issues.

In some cases, another screening tool may be more effective.

A Cape Coral woman recently found her breast cancer through an MRI.

To enjoy good health, Anglea Forell never misses an exam or physical. That includes her mammograms.

“Just went every year,” Forell said. “I’ve always had dense tissue. That’s something that I’ve always known.”

Dense breast tissue makes standard mammograms tough to interpret. The fibrous tissue, along with tumors, appear white, so while Angela’s test came out clean, she didn’t trust the result.

“I’m in the shower, and I feel a huge area,” Forell said, “and it wasn’t normal.”

In dense breast tissue, mammography sensitivity goes down to less than 50%, and those were odds Angela wouldn’t accept. She opted for a more intensive screening and is glad she did.

“They said, you know, just to be sure, why don’t we do an MRI?” Forell said, “and you do hesitate, but I did it and that came back suspicious.”

Radiologist Brett Parkinson said an MRI can be a better method for at-risk patients.

“Mammography picks up about four cancers per 1,000 women,” Parkinson said. “MRI, on the other hand, can pick up anywhere from 12 to 16 early breast cancers.”

The in-depth look brought into focus the cancer that eluded Angela’s doctors. A biopsy revealed invasive lobular cancer.

“It was almost 15 centimeters,” Forell said. “My surgeon has said that I probably had this growing in me for a number of years. It just was never seen.”

Lobular cancer forms in the milk glands and is less likely to show up in a mammogram, making the MRI a valuable tool.

“Our goal is to detect cancers when they are small, at their earliest, most treatable stage,” Parkinson said.

Angela had surgery and radiation and is looking forward to resuming her happy, healthy lifestyle.

“I’m going to go on with my life,” Forell said. “I’m going to find the joy in every day.”

Newer still is something called the “abbreviated MRI.”

It’s performed in about 10 minutes and has enough detail to provide answers, but it’s quicker and less expensive.

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