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Question for Dr / nurse: Lympth node
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Question for Dr / nurse: Lympth node

My mum has had a masectomy and been told she has 8 cancerous lympth nodes. She has to have a CT scan and bone scan in next few days. The lump was 2.5 cm big that was removed and we've been told all cancer was removed from that part of the body.

I was with her when the news was delivered and she has asked that she can remain in ignorance, she doesnt want to face or know how serious things are yet so didnt ask questions. I know that some women have had 1 -3 lympth nodes affected but im extremely worried that she has it in 8. Does this mean her prognosis is far worse. If her scans are clear than chemotherapy can be just effective on 8 lympth as it can be on 1 or 2 can't it? I think I just need to know that having it in 8, 9, 10 etc can still be common and people still recover?

Also I have found a clinic in London that focuses on alternative therapy in conjunction with chemo etc (dove clinic). I just wondered if anybody had heard of this and if you think there could be some benefit in this?

Thanks so much
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492898_tn?1222247198
I am sorry you are carrying this burden, and especially since your mum doesn't want to know. All I can really tell you is about 'general' and about 'myself'. General: yes, when lymph nodes are positive for cancer, the risk for recurrance goes up, but these are just statistics and they don't tell you much.
So, they will be taking some more tests and scans to check if maybe her cancer has spread to other places, and that is a routine thing to do. On the other hand, just because all tests are negative does not mean your mother, or anyone really, does not have very small cancer cells in other places, and when they are very small they cannot be seen. It is for that reason, and because of the increased chance that some of the cancer may have spread that she will receive the chemotherapy. In my case, my doctor didn't order tests because he told me it wouldn't mean much if nothing showed up, and since I am already getting chemotherapy, it didn't really matter. (because he was already treating me 'as if' there could be more going on. at that time nobody was aware that my lymph nodes were positive because they could not be felt, and they did not show up on MRI and/or ultrasound. but when I had my mastectomy, it turned out that 14 of my lymph nodes were positive for cancer. So, they made sure the radiation would hit that area, even if the surgeon most likely got it all out.

it's been about 1.5 years and I am OK, and chances are that your mother is also OK, or will be OK after treatment is finished. Of course you cannot know that for sure, ever, and the cancer can come back, but just because she had those cancerous lymph nodes doesn't mean she is dying, if you know what I mean?

Some people have a tiny tumor and no spread to lymph nodes and they still get the cancer back very badly, when others like your mother and I may not.

So, it's natural that you would worry but you don't have to worry too much?

Hope this helps, kat
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm certainly not a doctor nor a nurse...but I am a breast cancer survivor of a very aggressive type.  My tumor was 3.5 cm and I had 5 positive nodes.  I was scared to death...especially since my type of cancer called "Her2/neu" comes with a very bad prognosis.  I wasn't even promised a year.  :(  

I won't bore you but I am currently 3 yrs and 3 months out from my first mastectomy and doing fine. (Knock on wood.)  (In remission & planning on staying that way.)  :)  I have been on many different message boards/forums for breast cancer and I can tell you to ignore stats.  That's all they are is JUST stats...numbers!  They are OLD and need updated now with the newer chemo's and targeted therapy they have.  Women are doing SO much better.  I personally know of lots of woman with my SAME aggressive cancer and one had 16 positive nodes and the other had 27 I believe it was.  When they were first diagnoised they were told pretty much they would not make it...but they are BOTH here and still NED.  (Stands for "No Evidence of Disease")   One of those woman is going on 7 years with no recurrance...and the other is on 8 yrs and NED.  Plus another new gal that just joined our board is a 19 yr survivor that had 10 or so positive nodes.  (They really are OUT there...please pass this on to your mom)  

As the other poster said some woman can have a little tumor and NO nodes involved and still recur...and another woman can have a large tumor with many nodes positive and do well.  There is just no way to tell which woman will do well and which ones might recur.  But I want you to know there is so MUCH more hope these days then years ago when they read you those OLD stats.  Those are just numbers and we are all indivduals.  Being diagnoised is no longer a death sentence.  (Even though that is how you feel when you 1st here those words from your doctor.)

So in all honesty yes your mother can still do fine even though she has 8 positive nodes.  Treatment is not fun but it is doable especially when you have the love and support of your family like obviously your mother has with YOU.  :)   I'd like to make one very serious suggestion...please have your Mother get a 2nd and even 3rd opinion.  At least the 2nd opinion from an entirly different hospital.  That's very important and she will feel better about her treatment options in doing that.

If there are any questions you have for me I would be more then happy to try to answer them if I can.  But you tell your mom to hang in there...as hard as it is to believe right now she WILL get through this and will eventually start working on the "Road to Recovery".  Its all over whelming and very scary when first diagnoised...but tell her to breath and to learn to take one day at a time.  Don't think ahead and start thinking of all the what if's.   Give your Mom a BIG hug and tell her your going to be there for her and that she WILL get through this.  She needs you more now then ever.  Bless you both....wishing you all the best.

Rinda

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Avatar_n_tn
Thankyou so so much. I absolutely adore my mum and I just feel like our whole world has fallen apart at the moment. I know so many people get through it and I must be positive but its really hard. It really really helps to hear positive stories from other people though and its great to hear that everything is good for you. I think I just did something very stupid and unhelpful by looking at the internet on stats last week and all I can think about is the negative stuff I've seen and its terrifying. We get the results on Wednesday of the scans and I'm just desperately hoping that there is no more bad news.

Its just crazy that 5 weeks ago my mum was healthy and the biggest problem she had was what shoes to buy with her new outfit. Now she is waiting for results on bone and CT scans. How you take life and family for granted!
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25201_tn?1255584436
Just a quick comment about a statement you made in your recent post. 5 weeks ago your Mum was not perfectly healthy .... she had the cancer that now concerns you both and most likely had it for several years. Just keep thinking that the only difference now is that you know about it and are doing something to treat it so that she can once again be that healthy carefree Mum that you know and love. Kindest regards to you both ..... and why not go out and get her a new outfit & shoes to match.
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Avatar_n_tn
Not sure if I will be able to help you but I wanted to share my situation as it is similar. My mom had a mastectomy last month, had 8/20 nodes positive and is triple negative. She just finished her first Chemo. I read all the negativity about triple negative breast cancer since there are no targetted therapies that can be used after Chemo and the recurrence rate is high. I read them but I don't tell my mom. However I do emphasise that she NEEDS to get through her chemo as it will greatly reduce the chance of recurrence. She is 57 years old and was very frightened of the chemo thinking that chemo itself will kill her. She went to her first one as my dad and I pleaded her. The first week was miserable. She was angry on us for making her go through so much pain. Her surgery itself hadn't compeltely healed and she was in pain all the time. We just listened to her without giving any opinion. She even pledged that she is not going back for the second one. But here we are in the 3rd week. She has been doing great the 2nd and 3rd week and is getting ready for the upcoming second round. For what I understand treatment is a roller coaster ride but eventually everyone will get through it with proper support and care. About recurrence, that is in the back of my head all the time. Thoughts like what if the cancer recurs as soon as the treatment is done. Are we wasting time going through all this instead of letting her enjoy? However, I rechannel my thoughts thinking that even a healthy individual will not know if they are going to die or live after the next 6 months. A person who commutes everyday might have more risk of losing life than my mom who is pretty much home. Think about now and enjoy every single day while doing the best you can to prevent the unknown.
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