Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Breast Cancer Fight: Colour-Enhanced Mammogram @ NUH Breast Care Imaging

Colour-Enhanced Mammogram is an imaging technique that uses iodinated intravenous contrast in combination with a standard digital mammogram. Some cancers that are not visible in standard mammograms can be seen with contrast enhancement. The iodinated contrast agents are identical to the ones used in CT scans, but different from the ones used in MRI. 

Cancers typically have more vessels and leaky vessels relative to normal tissue and therefore more contrast agent. In Colour-Enhanced Mammograms, areas where there there is more of the contrast agent appear white, whereas normal breast tissue {dense and non-dense} and benign {non-cancerous} lesions usually appear dark. For this reason, most cancers are easier to spot this way as compared to normal mammograms. 

I went for my Colour-Enhanced Mammogram on Tue 27 Sep 2022 to assess the extent of my cancer and to check again if there was any cancer activity in my right breast that my previous scans did not pick up. 

I was the first patient after their lunch break so registration was fast and the nurse saw me soon after to put the needle in and check on my last day of period. 

After that, I went to the room for mammograms, undressed my top half and put on a robe. The radiographer then injected the contrast agent through the needle. As she mentioned and as I read earlier, I immediately felt a warm tingly feeling all over, a sudden need to pee, and a slight metallic taste in my mouth.  

A few minutes later, the radiographer then took my mammogram shots at the machine. Unlike at Radlink where there were 3 radiographers to position and compress my breasts, there was only 1 this time. And she only took 2 positions for each breast. 

I was done about 2.35pm but had to wait for the radiologist to review the scans and approve my leave. However, at 3.20pm, Dr Ee Lin came out to tell me that I needed to do an impromptu ultrasound on the left breast. Aiya.... 

By then, I was feeling very tired, hungry and a little faint as I had been fasting from 10am for the colour-enhanced mammogram. And cold too so the nurses gave me a blanket. 

Even before that, I ate quite little {only some homemade chicken soup} and no coffee, sugar or carbs as I was limiting my food intake to prepare for my PET-CT scan the next day.

Took about 30mins before I went into another room for my ultrasound. The radiographer spent some time going over my armpits which I'm suspecting she was checking my lymph nodes. Got me a bit scared as I thought they might have picked up some cancer spread there.

A radiologist, Dr Eric, came in to do the ultrasound himself too. After scanning, he briefly told me that based on a quick review of the day's scans and comparison with my previous scans, there was no changes, further spread of the cancer and the lumps did not get bigger. Phew!  

Finally left NUH about 2.5hrs later even though it was just supposed to be a "quick scan" day..

Colour-Enhanced Mammogram {both breasts} cost: S$403.80
Ultrasound {left breast} cost: S$143.81

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Before mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries


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