I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Between the time she was diagnosed and had a lumpectomy the tumors had doubled in size. She had positivee and negative nodes. A couple of weeks later she had a port put in then soon after started chemo once every 3 weeks for a several months. She was suppose to have a month off before she started radiation. 3 weeks after her last chemo the NP at the surgeons office diagnosed her with shingles at her surgical site so she didn't start radiation. 10 days later she started having severe headaches, nausea and vomiting. She went to the ER and had a MRI which shold numerous brain metastases and the oncologist said that it wasn't shimgles but cancer at her original site. She had an LP which showed cancer in her spinal fluid. I have never heard of breast cancer spreading this fast especially while on chemo. Can and does this happen? Would a mastectomy have helped? All of her original scans were normal. It has only been7 months since original diagnosis and the doctors say she has a month or less left.
My friend had her cancer spread sometime around her last chemo and the middle of her radiation. She had a very aggressive cancer, triple negative, I believe. She is currently under the care of MD Anderson in Houston and her cancer has been put under control, at this time. Have your friend seek answers elsewhere, don't let her give up.
Good luck to her, and I hope you can encourage her to find help elsewhere. It might help.
A lumpectomy is usually a definitve procedure. This is usually done after ascertaining that there is likely no cancer anywhere else.
If the chemotherapy was planned from the start, then the “lumpectomy” is probably an “excision biopsy” which is only meant to document the cancer and run some tests to determine aggressiveness and response of certain types of medications. If this is the case, then there is cancer that is still present after the “lumpectomy”.
Cancers may progress during chemotherapy, this is indeed one of the concerns with treatment. The presence of cancer in the brain is not usually included among imaging studies. So there is a chance that the tumors in the brain were present but were not causing symptoms during the start of treatment.
It would be best to discuss specifics during each step of the treatment and then decide whether you would consider seeking treatment elsewhere.
She had 3 lumps removed and approx 12 lymph nodes removed. 3/4 of the lymph nodes were positive and the rest negative. She had CT scans, MRIs and bone scans prior to chemo. 6 weeks after surgery she started chemo. She had it once every 3 weeks. Then she was suppose to have a month off and then start radiation but her symptoms of brain mets started so she never had the breast radiation.
Try to find out if the MRI was done for the brain before the chemotherapy, as this would clear up if the findings in the brain are new. Doing the MRI for the brain is not routinely done before chemotherapy, partly because, having disease in the brain without any disease in bone or liver is pretty uncommon in breast cancer.
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