Panic at tumour size and lymph nodes affected

Hello all,
I have been reading many discussions since my diagnosis on 29th Oct. I got my results today after mastectomy and ax clearance two weeks ago. My tumour size was 7.5cm and 16 out of 24 lymph glands affected. I have been coping pretty well really but am now in total shock. Suddenly it all seems too big for me to fight. Is tumour size an indicator of aggression. Anyone else with similar results. Please tell me i am not alone here?

Dear Liane

I am sorry to read that you are feeling so shocked following your results yesterday, please call our helpline this morning for some support and information from one of our specialist nurses. I am sure your fellow forum users will be along very soon with valauble support too.

The helpline opens this morning at 9am until 5pm (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-2pm).

Kind regards

Breast Cancer Care

Hi Liane

I really understand your shock. My tumour was smaller than yours…4-5cm but I did have 23 nodes with cancer and evreyone I read about seemed to have fewer.

Yes lymph node involvment and size (to a lesser extent) are indicators of a poorer prognosis. But other factors count too…the grade of the tumour (grade 3 is most aggressive but many people who use these forums are grade 3 so you won’t be alone there is yours is grade 3) and whether it is sensitive to hormones or not.

I never think about ‘fighting’ my cancer because that feels like an additional burden on top of the cancer in the first place. I reckon all you can do is find out about treatments and take those suggested for you in the hope they will control the cancer. No one can predict the future because cancer is unpredictable…sometimes people with big tumours and lymph involvment do well and others who seeemd to have less ‘serious’ features do more badly.

Its 4 years since I was diagnosed…yes I got a recurrence in April this year, but I’ve had some good times in the last 4 years…and right now I’m feeling well.

It takes a while to get your head round having cancer…go gently with yourself. You are certainly not alone.

best wishes


Thank you jane. Your comments are so helpful to me. Four years is good - here’s hoping there’s another 40 hey?
Best of luck to you,
Liane x

Hi Liane

Tumour size is not a direct indicator of aggression - it is an indicator of stage or how long the tumour has been growing. However, staging has fallen out of favour in the UK because, as Jane says, there are many aspects that make up your pathology report and each is looked at individually.

I am in touch with young breast cancer survivors in the US and they are moving away from staging there too as they think the importance of the size of tumour has been over-estimated. It is now being thought that as all cancers behave differently the individual characteristics of your particular tumour will determine outcome regardless of how long it has been around.

My tumour was only 3cm and I had no lymph nodes involved but I still got secondaries, yet I know women with far larger tumours and all lymph nodes involved who are cancer-free ten years down the line. So big lump and high grade does not necessarily equal poor prognosis.

I know it’s hard but you have to tell yourself you have as much chance as the next person of beating this and leading a long and happy life. The shock will lessen with time and you will find strength you never knew you had.

Keeping my fingers crossed for you.


Lola x

Hi Lola,
Thank you so much for your explanation - that all makes complete sense to me and is just what I needed to hear. If I feel i have as much chance of beating this as others who have smaller tumors I can soldier on. I can’t thank you enough for your reply.
love liane x