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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 1/6/2005 12:49 PM (GMT -7)   

I am new to this board. My mother has breast cancer and I am finding that I have so many questions that can not be answered. Here is my story:

My mom went to the Doctors because she had a lump in her limp nodes (on the rt. side of her body). They ran a test and discovered that it was a breast cancer. They then tried to find the starting lesion in her breast. She did an Mammography, ultra sound and even an MRI. Using the results of the MRI they found a very small lesion. Last week they removed the lump in her breast and the cancer in your limp nodes. They determined that the cancer had not spread to anyother limp nodes, which is good news. They did a pathology test on the small lesion and it is not cancerous. They are telling my mother she is most likely going to have a mastectomy. My mother is heart broken at this news, but she know it has to hadppen if she is going to survive.

I am very confused?? Why is it that they can not find the cancer? They can't even determine the stage she is at. Has anyone in this group ever encountered a situation like this?

They still have not even checked her our breast out? I find this to be very strange? How will they know if this cancer has spread? What if this cancer did not even start in her breasts, but moved to the breasts and then limp nodes?

frustrated!! help,


Christina S

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2272
   Posted 1/6/2005 2:28 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Christina-
Let me try and help. Breast cancer is breast cancer, regardless of where it spreads. If it spreads to the liver, it is still breast cancer, but it is called metastatic breast cancer. They can tell by looking at cells and determining what kind of cancer it is, through a biopsy.

Breast cancer is not always easy to detect. The mammography, US and MRI were ways to look at the breast tissue to detect the lesion, or tumor. Not everything is detectable, unfortunately. When breast cancer spreads out of the breast, the first place it is most likely to get detected in in the lymph nodes. They filter the cancer (and infections or other impurities) before it goes elsewhere. We have lymph nodes all over our bodies...behind the knees, groin, clavicle area....

Some breast cancers are not easily detected by tests, such as lobular breast cancer. Others are seen right away. My tumor was 2.5 cm, and you could not see it on the mammogram.

You asked about checking out the breast, the tests you mentioned are the ways in which they checked out the breast. They may have scanned other organs to look for cancer or done blood tests. And yes, if they cannot locate the cancer in the breast, but it is definitely breast cancer in the lymph nodes, then they will probably want to remove the breast.

Survival is very high, and usually depends on several factors. More node involvement may mean higher chance for recurrance. Nothing is a guarantee though...some with tiny tumors have it spread, and others with large tumors never have to deal with it again.

I would encourage you to go with your mom to appointments and ask these good questions, then get a 2nd opinion. A major hospital at a university is a great place to start.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2921
   Posted 1/6/2005 4:30 PM (GMT -7)   
Lori gave you a complete and great answer. I will just welcome you and tell you to feel free to ask away. We will help in any way we can. We are from all over the country, and you can see where by reading the roll call above. Perhaps there is someone near your area who can help with questions your mother might have over the phone if she does not use the internet and would be interested in talking to someone. I live in Texas but I have one rate long distance and can call anywhere. Email me if I can help, you can get my email by clicking on my name. Hugs, Mary K.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2003
Total Posts : 248
   Posted 1/7/2005 5:35 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Christina! Welcome to our Board! Lori gave you great information. Some cancers are just very difficult to detect with traditional tests, especially if your mom has very dense breasts. The MRI, even though it is more sensitive that mammography and ultra sound, still is not 100% accurate. I agree with Lori that your mom should consult a major cancer center where state of the art and cutting edge technology is available, especially since your mom's cancer is being so ellusive. BTW, loosing her breast is not so awful; it will be difficult at first but if she chooses, there are great reconstruction options. I had bilateral mastectomies with reconstruction and I am very happy with the results. You and your mom should come here with questions. Collectively we have had many different experiences and are able to offer assitance in deciphering all the information that will be thrown at you in the beginning. Your mom is very lucky to have you to help her through this troubling time! Good Luck! Frayda
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