Strange result

Hi, can anybody help. I was diagnosed in early February 2104 with breast cancer stage3. Went on to have opp lumpectomy and 4 lymph nodes removed. 4 weeks ago. I was then informed the lymph nodes where clear, I was HER2 negative but my oestrogen levels where 5/8 positive. But the very strange thing was that my tumour was 16 mm and only stage2 !!
I just don’t understand and they don’t seem to either. They say if it’s a stage 2 I don’t need chemo but if it’s a stage 3 I do! Has anybody else experienced this as I have to make a design on Monday on which way to go with this treatment. Any thoughts would be very gratefully received. Thanks

Hello MazHitch

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best wishes

June, moderator

Hello Maz,
I am five months on from my first diagnosis in October 2013.
Have you had a copy of your pathology report? I asked for a copy of my pathology report and it really helped to clarify the details for me.
Some women do not want to know the details because the details frighten them more. I like to see things in black and white. We are all different.
In reading your post, I am wondering whether you have got ‘Grade’ and ‘Stage’ mixed up.
The reason I say this is that I had a similar experience to you.
After my triple tests, I was provisionally diagnosed with Grade 3 breast cancer, tumour showed up as 26 mm.
However, after my WLE and SNB, my pathology report confirmed a Grade 2 breast cancer, size of tumour 19mm.
It was ER+ 8/8 and HER2 negative. No cancer found in my sentinel lymph node.
TNM staging was Stage 1.
At my initial diagnosis, my breast surgeon said I may need chemo. That was because the cancer cells were provisionally assessed as Grade 3. However, after my operation and the more detailed pathology tests on the tumour, the cancer cells were confirmed as Grade 2. Lymph nodes clear. I therefore did not require chemo. I was so relieved and count my blessings every day. Just had radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
The ‘grade’ of a cancer gives an idea of how quickly it might grow. The grade is decided based on what the cancer cells look like under a microscope compared with normal cells. Knowing the grade helps your doctor decide which other treatments you need after surgery.
My advice would be to ask for a copy of your pathology report so you can put your mind at rest. Also to ask your breast care nurse for clarification on your ‘Grade’ and ‘Stage’ of cancer.
I am not a medical professional but have done a lot of research on the Macmillan and BCC websites/leaflets and from what you have said about your diagnosis, that is, no cancer found in your lymph nodes, ER+ 5/8, HER2 negative and size 16mm, it does not match the descriptions of a Stage 3 cancer which more often than not has spread to the lymph nodes.
Here is the link to the Macmillan website explaining Staging and Grading of breast cancer in women.
Everybody’s cancer and their treatment plan is individual to them.
Before you make any decisions about your treatment make sure you double check the specific details of your cancer and be absolutely clear in your mind.
Best wishes and good luck.
Peace and Positivity,
M x

Hi Maz


Are you getting the stage and the grade mixed up? The grade is how fast the cancer is growing, grade1 slow growing, grade 2 moderate, grade 3 fast growing and aggresive, the stage is how far it has spread and/or the size of the tumour, these links may help you.


Hope this helps


Lydia x

Hi M and Lydia
Thank you both for your thoughts. You are both right Iv but stage instead of grade.
My biopsy said it was a grade 3 but it had a cyst attached to it that’s how I found the lump (with cyst they thought it was 26mm) but after my opp said it was a grade 2 and 16mm
Which was great news I thought but because the biopsy said 3 I should think of it that way even though tumour was 2. My oncologist said she had never come across this before.
Another factor is that I had a mammogram last march and there was nothing there so I no it has taken 10 months or less to grow and I am only 50. I really don’t no which way to go for the best.
Again thanks

Just got back from the oncologist. She was very helpful again. She has looked at 2 breast cancer survival prediction -adjuvant! Online and NHS predict first was 2.8% and the second was 2.6% so both under 3% over 10 years.
On these results I have decided not to have chemo. They are going to give me a body scan and radiotherapy and I have just taken my first tamoxifen.
What ever happens in the future I will have to live with. But as of today I 'm going forward with an open mind that I have made the right choices for me. Only time will tell!
Good luck to everyone it seems like a very long road ahead but We can only take one step at a time.