spread to lymph nodes dear sunnybear,
cancer cells spread via the lymph system from the tumour in a predictable way. the breast lymph system drains to lymph nodes in the armpit. The two breasts have independent systems, therefore the surgeons are interested in testing the lymph nodes in the armpit on the side of the body where the breast tumour was only.
Some hospitals now offer sentinel node biopsy, where they use a coloured dye and or a radioactive kind of fluid injected into the site of the tumour bed or at the nipple. This then moves to wear the first lymph node is to which the lymph drains, if this has any cancer cells in it, the rest should be removed, if not the rest of the lymph nodes are likely to be clear (in 99.8% cases or more I think). Therefore if surgeons think the lymph nodes are likely to be clear, they can do this test and then in most instances avoid surgery which could cause lymphoedema.
Not all hospitals offer this, I think it is best to get yourself referred to a cancer centre of excellence if you can as you get the state of the art treatments there.
More information I think you need more information. All cancers are different and sometimes no further tretament is necessary after mastectomy.
You need to know the grade and stage of the cancer, and what its oestrogen and progesterone receptor status was, also its her2 status. Most women who have er+ and pr+ tumours have a hormonal drug like tamoxifen after surgery. (er+ and pr+ means the cancer is fuelled by hormones and hormonal treatment may help prevent a recurrence.)
You don\'t say how old your mother is. Sometimes older women (particularly in their 60s and 70s) are denied tretaments which younger women would have. This can be the right thing but it can also betray ageism.
Yes do call the BCC helpline or the Cancer Bacup helpline. They should be able to help you compile a list of questions for your mother\'s breast care nurse or consultant. (I\'d say they should be asked of the consultant.)
Another thought...be sensitive around your mum\'s own feelings on information. Some people are information seekers and others prefer not to know too much.
--- Hi Sunnybear,
I hope this will help to reassure you a little, as I, like you, wondered if I should be having more treatments.
I had a small invasive grade 2 cancer, surrounded with DCIS. I had a mastectomy and reconstruction. I did not have to have any rads or chemo. I have though, just finished 5 years of Tamoxifen and am still here, fighting fit! ( and the one down side of that is my periods have returned..UGH! )
Wishing you, and your Mum well,
And here you are ..... Hi Sunnybear,
As I was browsing I was thinking - dangerous I know! Your Mum should have a breast care nurse who could either explain things more fully - you and/or your Dad could go along too to hear what is said, or you could phone the online help here at BCC they will be able to answer your questions. There is a lady on these forums who is a fountain of knowledge - Mole where are you?
Hope you get answers soon.
2nd opinion Hi
Last week Mum had mastectomy and 14 lymph nodes removed. Before her operation she was diagnosed with DCIS (non invasive cancer).
Today she had her results back. Fortunately all 14 lymph nodes were clear but they did find areas of invasive cancer which had not shown before. The consultant reassured her that all traces of the invasive cancer had been removed with the mastectomy and there is no need for her to have any further treatment.
My Father and I are not convinced and think that surely if she had some invasive cancer she should be undergoing some kind of further treatment to prevent it coming back or incase it has spread anywhere else. Also, how can they be sure that her lymph nodes on the other side (ie the side which wasn\'t removed) are clear and that it hasn\'t spread anywhere else? Or does it only spread to the side where the cancer is? Sorry I\'m not very clued up so that may sound daft.
I just wondered whether it is worth getting a 2nd opinion or if anyone can offer any advice.