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How do I know if my cancer has travelled beyond my lymph nodes?


Re: How do I know if my cancer has travelled beyond my lymph nodes?

Thank you Catherine


Re: How do I know if my cancer has travelled beyond my lymph nodes?

Hi Deblina


Thanks for posting here.


Treatment plans, as you say depend on a number of factors, and most of this information comes from the pathology report of the breast tissue and lymph nodes removed during surgery.  Our written information on your pathology results gives more details about what is contained in the report.


A number of these factors will also give some indication of the chance of cancer cells having spread beyond the breast or lymph nodes under the arm.  For example if and how many lymph nodes contain cancer cells or whether there is any lympho-vascular invasion (when breast cancer cells spread into the lymph and blood vessels within the breast, and can be seen in these vessels under the microscope).


Your doctors will use this information to decide whether any further scans to check for any spread are necessary before confirming your treatment plan. 


Most people will not require a scan following their surgery or part of their follow up, as their risk of any cells having spread and produced any secondary breast cancer tumours elsewhere will be low.  In those who are higher risk of their cancer having already spread, doctors will often recommend a CT scan to check this depending on the individual situation.


In addition, doctors often also request routine blood tests to check the function of the liver or calcium levels which may indicate any spread of cancer to the liver or bones for instance.


Fully understanding their breast cancer and treatment decisions can be a really important way of helping some people cope and feel in control of what is happening, so don’t be afraid of asking your treatment team any questions you have.


As you have mentioned that you are 43, you may be interested to know that we have a number of services and support designed specifically for younger women. This includes a two day free residential event called Younger Women Together.


You can find out more from the above link or by calling our Helpline on 0808 800 6000.  If you would like to talk with another young woman diagnosed with breast cancer who understands what you are going through, you can use our Someone Like Me service.


Do call our free, confidential Helpline if you would like to talk this through in more detail or have any further questions. The number is 0808 800 6000.


Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open. 


Best wishes




Breast Cancer Now Nurse


Please read the Ask Our Nurses disclaimer


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How do I know if my cancer has travelled beyond my lymph nodes?

Hi there

I am having a mastectomy and my lymph nodes removed on the right hand side. I am ER positive and HER2 positive. I have Lobular Breast Cancer I think it is grade 2. I am 43 and haven't yet went through my menopause.

I understand my treatment plan can't be finalized until pathology results come through.

My question is this...…..how do the doctors know that my cancer hasn't spread elsewhere......what scans are used to check this?