How much will they know?

Hello everyone, thanks for this great site.
I went for my first ever screening mammogram twelve days ago and was recalled yesterday for ultrasound and core biopsy.
There’s a lobular growth in my right breast, fixed, about 2.5 cm long and 1 to 1,5 wide, and they took two samples for analysis.
The doctor I spoke to was careful not to commit herself to any ‘guesswork’ predictions, but she said she was concerned after palpating the lump and I’m to see a breast surgeon for the results next Monday. This site has been very useful in finding out what questions to ask if the lump is malignant, but I’m not clear how much they can tell from the biopsy. So, grade and type only? Or do they know about receptors etc just from the biopsy?
I’m hoping I’ll feel stupid for asking this question when I get my results next Monday, but if it is cancer, I’d rather ask my stupid questions here and now than there and then!

Hi Bernie

sorry you have to join us

the biopsy will only show whether or not you have malignant cancer, if you do have cancer (and I hope that you dont, as 90% of lumps are not cancer) you will have the operation which maybe mastectomy or a lumpectomy (WLE), this will then grade and stage the tumour and it will also tell you the recptors and what type of cancer it is. The worse part is waiting and not knowing,

Best wishes Linda

Hi Bernie,

Like you the lumps is my breast were lobular and discovered after a mammogram for a cyst that I had found.
The cyst was a cyst but the mammogram picked up the other ‘suspicious’ areas. The same day I had an ultrasound, and two core biopsies, followed by a MRI scan a few days later. The consultant was ‘concerned’ and talked of the lump being ’ suspicious’ but I had to wait until the following week for results.
The results gave me ‘cancerous cells’ in one and inconclusive in another and so a further core biopsy and another week. I was told then that the lumps were lobular and if both proved to be cancerous it would mean a mastectomy. So I was drip fed info bit by bit.
When a week later the second area was shown to contain cancerous cells that is when a date was given for a lumpectomy, I didn’t get a grade or info about receptors until after the mastectomy which was done because of the position of the lump rather than its grade.
There is loads of really helpful info on the bcc site and lots of lovely supportive people in the forum. As Linda says the worse part is the waiting and all the thoughts that can go through your head, try to remember also that as she says most lumps are not cancer.
I wish you all the best for your results on Monday and let us know how you get on.


Thank you so much, Linda and Magsi,
Yes, the waiting is no fun at all. I’m trying not to lose this whole week in ‘waiting’ and keep life as normal as possible, but there is a strong sense of being ‘on hold’ till the results day. I had very little pain and almost no bruising after the biopsy on Monday, but my upper right arm is quite sore today and my right eye (!?!) - I’m probably just taking note of every tiny passing twinge that normally wouldn’t even register with me just because I’m over-anxious at the minute. Magsi, if I have understood you correctly, you had THREE weeks of tests and waiting for results before you got a date for treatment - is that right? And how many weeks did you wait for the actual surgery? This really worries me because I have a work committment scheduled for the end of August, and if I can’t do it I would really need to tell them before the end of next week to give them time to find a replacement.
Thanks again and I’ll let you know what happens on Monday.

Dear Bernie

you really need to put all work commitments on hold I am afraid if you are diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember having exactly the same feelings as I was in a six month secondment which had just been extended when I was told I had cancer, and I just had to drop everything, it was very bizarre I must say to go from work to being ill without feeling ill in the slightest. Apart from mentally sick of course. My employers were very good and I ended up getting a permanent job where I am still working. By the way, I waited six months for diagnosis as my lump came out as benign until it was removed.


Hi Bernie,

Trying to work out how long between tests so here goes:-

Two weeks from mamogram until results, as one inconclusive and had to be redone,
Date set for lumpectomy two weeks later.
Result the following week and offered mastectomy 36hours later !!! but I opted to wait a further week as I wanted to get Christmas shopping done and complete reports for school. First things first!
So it would have been 5 weeks and 2 days from initial scan until mastectomy, wow I didn’t realise it had gone so fast and of course if one result hadn’t been inconclusive and needed redoing it would have been 4 weeks 2 days - no wonder its called a roller coaster, it was certainly a fast ride.
Until the mastectomy I continued teaching just taking off 4 days for the lumpectomy and then finishing work the night before the mastectomy. Obviously I then had to wait for more results after the mastectomy to know how much more time I would need to be away from the classroom.
Really hope that you wont need to go down this route though Bernie and all the best for Monday
Magsi x

Thanks Mole and Magsi, that’s very helpful. This is turning out to be a very LONG week indeed, thank heavens I can ask questions here as I’d be climbing the walls otherwise.

Just to let you know that I’m thinking about you Bernie.

After I had the lumpectomy I saw my pathology report. It had identified the tumour as Er neg at Biopsy, but I wasnt told this. My experience was that I only got specifics when I asked about them, which is fair enough as not everyone wants the detail particularly when its not brilliant, in my case Grade 3, Triple Negative.

Very best of luck!


Really sorry to hear you’re in the waiting game.

Receptor tests were done on my biospy though I wasn’t told at the time…only disovered the rigth questions ot ask later. Grade is determined by biospy too…though sometimes on small tumours this may change at surgery. Stageing is more complicated as it depends on extent of lymph node spread which can’t always be determined until surgery.

As to work…if you have breast cancer then I think this will tak eprioirty in your life for a while…and ‘normal’ considerations about work commitments and deadlines just fly out the window…well they did for me 5 mnhths into a pretty responsible job.

bet wishes


Thank you all so much. I don’t know how I would have got through this week without this site. I’m also just realising now how frightened my family are about this. They rush to reassurance that ‘everything will be okay’ but I need to be able to face the possibility that it won’t and make some practical arrangements to deal with it if necessary.
Hearing from all of you is helping me not to panic about it, because I know I can get answers to my questions. It’s funny, but telling my family about this site has made them far less afraid to discuss practicalities with me. As for work, I’ve already warned my line manager that the August project will need some rethinking if Monday doesn’t bring a good result, and that has made me far less anxious about it. Magsi, your message made me realise that I CAN continue to work in the ‘waiting’ times - that’s a huge relief. When I talk about my family I’m referring to my huge extended mob of siblings and their offspring, I’m single, no kids and live alone, so so if I had to sit about waiting for weeks on end and couldn’t go to work I’d go mad! Katie and Jane, thank you - I’ll ask those specific questions on Monday.
Bless you all, I’ll get back online on Monday and let you know how it goes.

Hugs and prayers,

Hi Bernieszu,

Sorry you have to join us but good luck on Monday.
I had to wait a week for my biopsy with a report that told me it was probably benign but biopsy just in case, so here I am! 6wks down the line after surgery and I’m due to start rads very soon.

Do take someone with you on Monday as they will hear far more than you. Try and find a good friend or relative to go with you as when I was told the diagnosis my mind went into overdrive and I didn’t really take in the detail of what was being said. My husband was really good and noted all that was said ( this lead to some arguements) but it was really useful to have someone there. I have taken someone with on every ocassion since and this has been really useful.

Also write down anything you may want to ask before you go as this can be useful to, and I have done this.

Good luck on Monday and remember NO question is silly.


Thanks very much, Toffee,
My sister is coming with me, I’ve printed out a list of questions to ask (and even designed a table to record the answers in! - funny what tasks you devise to help to pass the time and reduce anxiety while waiting) and I’m going to ask for a copy of the path report or else transcribe it if it’s short. Hope your rads go well and thanks again.


Hello Bernie - from another Bernie!

You sound very together and have had some good advice above from women whose posts I looked out for on here when I was first dx in November 2005 (particularly Mole and JaneRA, did I ever thank you both?) I wish you luck with surgery and any other treatment you may have knowing that you’ll take it as it comes and manage although it is a bumpy ride at best. I had widespread high grade DCIS with node involvement which meant I had to have a mastectomy soon after my WLE with immediate reconstruction, followed by six months of chemo and a year of Herceptin. I’m well now and starting a PGCE in September but as Jane and Mole hint, breast cancer can take up a lot of space in your head as well as your breast. Ask lots of questions and find out about the alternative therapies available at your hospital, while they won’t change anything about your dx they can be a pleasant distraction from a very wearing situation.

Hello everyone,

Just got back from the hospital and the news is so much better than I feared. The core biopsies showed no abnormal cells and they reckon it’s a fibro-adenoma. Because the radiology was so suspicious, they have taken a cautious approach and did three more core biopsies today - ‘just in case’ - so I have to go back for the results next Monday. However, the doctor said he would be surprised if they find anything very significant next week.
I’m so relieved I can’t find words to express it other than a great big THANK YOU to God, the universe, everyone and everything. This last week has been the longest week of my life and I would not have been able to get through it without all of you, so the biggest THANK YOU is to all you women here who stopped me from going crazy with worry!

I am very aware that I’m not completely out of the woods yet, but feel sure that even if something is a bit suspicious next week they (and I) will be able to deal with it. I asked the surgeon, if the results confirm that it’s a fibro-adenoma, whether it would need to be removed (I know two women who have had them removed) and he said only if I want it removed. Any opinions/advice about this?

Thankls again, all of you,

Brilliant Bernie I am SO SO SO pleased and would certainly echo the thank you to God, this is where it is so frustrating trying to write what I want to say - I kinda want to shout YES!!!.

Much love
Magsi x

Thanks Magsi, I know just what you mean about wanting to shout. Thank you so much and Bless you for sharing your experience with me - your earlier answer about waiting times really helped me to get a perspective on things last week. Will keep looking in here and post whatever happens next week.

Will look out for your posting next week Bernie.
Hope the rest of this week is as good as it has started off.

I waited for 6 weeks from referral to a breast clinic, saw a guy there who briefly felt the lump, said “it’s hormonal, take evening primrose oil, I’ll send you for a noon urgent scan, 38 weeks-ish, take evening primrose oil”. I felt totally dismissed and hypochondriacal. The nurse did not smile once. She gave me a leaflet called “breast pain”. I was tempted to give her a leaflet called " hospital hygiene" - the sheet I’d had to lie under whilst waiting to be seen was SO grubby, Florence Nightingale would be turning in her grave - but I didnt have one to hand - anyway so I went away and forgot about it.
BUT then after 3 weeks I went to a different hospital (they swap patients from one to another hereabouts as “grubby sheet” hospital hasn’t got enough staff ) for an ultrasound and you could see a dark mass. And then I had an immediate mammogram and they called me back the next day for a core biopsy. They said they don’t like the look of it and it’s definitely not a cyst. I’ve been waiting for the results since last Thursday and am due to go in at 2.30 this afternoon and am TERRIFIED. I have a 9 year old daughter and haven’t been able to hide my anxiety from her and just feel so guilty.

PS The staff at the second hospital were wonderful, so kind and explained everything compassionately.