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mother with breast cancer
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mother with breast cancer

hello

my mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. i work on the other side of the world, so i dont have all the details.

what i do know is that she had a 3cm dcis lump in her left breast. the ultrasounds did not detect any other lumps or anything in the lymph nodes.

the doctors were unable to do an MRI on her.

she got a mastectomy on her left breast and the doctors checked the first few lymph nodes in exploratory procedures. the first few nodes looked inflamed, so they took all of the nodes on the left side of her body.

what stage does this sound like? what advice would you have for her over the coming months and years? what tests should be done to help insure she has as much time as possible?
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962875_tn?1314213636
I anwered your identical post in the BC Community Forum, but I'll repeat it here for the benefit of others visiting this forum who may have similiar concerns:

I'm sorry that you have learned that your mother has cancer, and that you are far away and probably feel rather limited in your ability to help her through this health crisis.

The stage will not be able to be determined until the full pathology report is back from her mastectomy and axillary dissection (lymph node removal from underarm area).

IF nodes are found to be positive, then additional tests will have to be done to see if there are any metastases (areas of cancer spread) to other parts of the body. Treatment planning would then be based on the type, grade, and stage of her cancer, as well as her general medical status.

But try not to get ahead of yourself. Until the path. report is available, it won't be known how aggressive her type of cancer is, or (for sure)  whether, or how many of, the lymph nodes are actually involved.

Please feel free to write again if you have more questions after your mother's doctors have  a fuller picture in regard to her case.

Beast wishes to you and your mother...
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Avatar_f_tn
Since the Mammogram/ultrasound showed the lump, an MRI is not needed.
It is hard to say what stage without knowing how many nodes were positive.
Since they did not do a PET/CT before surgery, than they were not suspecting distant mets.
Advise I would have for her is to follow the doctor's advise. Most will prescribe the most approiate treatment for her condition according to the guidlines. Another thing to condsider is what she wants.  www.nccn,org
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492898_tn?1222247198
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I knew absolutely nothing about any of this, and all I wanted to do was be told and guided, and certainly not to make choices. I didn't know enough to make choices. I don't think I could have handled multiple opinions, and  whether I wanted reconstruction, or not,

Anyway, I trusted my doctors because I was in no position to direct the, This is different now. Kat
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Avatar_f_tn
They performed a full mastectomy and found the first few lymph nodes inflamed during surgery.

They found involvement in 13 out of the 21 lymph nodes that they extracted.

A PET scan is scheduled for Friday.

What's next?
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962875_tn?1314213636
(Note:This is a repeat of my reply to your post in the BC Community Forum, for the benefit of those following  your thread in this forum.)

Hi again,

I am sorry that the pathology report was not more favorable, in regard to the extensive lymph node involvement. (Don't give up hope though; I know several BC survivors who had similar lymph node findings and are still around a number of  years later...)

Yes, a PET scan is ordered to look for possible spread (called distant metastases), to other parts of the body. Additional tests such as PET-CT scans, bone scans, etc., may also be done.

Once those are completed, a treatment plan will be recommened, based on any additional findings, as well as the factors I mentioned in my previous reply.

Please keep us posted, and let us know if we can be of additional assistance.

Hoping for the best,
bluebutterfly
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Avatar_f_tn
She had a PET scan.

There is no evidence that the breast cancer spread. Her lump was 2.8cm. She was diagnosed with HER2-type cancer.

However, there is an unrelated spot in her uterus that is most likely uteran cancer. She will have a full hysterectomy w/ ovary removal.

The doctors are scheduling her hysterectomy for next week. They will give her 2-3 weeks to heal.

When she's healed (in approximately 1 month), they will begin chemo She'll be on chemo for 4 months (until January).

In January, she will begin 6 weeks of radiation. She will continue to be treated by a pill until the 1 year anniversary (June).


What can you tell me about this type of cancer (HER2)?

The doctors state that there is a 50% chance of this type of cancer resurfacing somewhere in the body within 2-4 years. Is this accurate?

Does this sound like a valid treatment plan?

Is there anything else that we should be asking the doctors at this stage?

Do you have any suggestions on how we can help her through this?

Thanks so much.
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962875_tn?1314213636
Hi again,

I am glad to hear that no distant spread of her breast cancer was found!

The treatment plan that you outlined is a pretty common approach to most tumors the size of your mother's, and is certainly a valid one.

If what you are saying is that her cancer is HER2+ (HER2 positive), then it does tend to have a rather high rate of recurrence. Since your mother already had significant lymph node involvement, this makes for a poorer prognosis. (It is considered to be a very aggressive type of cancer, which requires very aggressive treatment even for very small tumors of this type, without lymph node involvement.) However, besides standard chemotherapy, there is also a targeted treatment, Herceptin,  for this type of cancer.

Please remember that when statistics are quoted, they reflect an average based on the experiences of  a group of patients over a  period of years. It does not give a clear idea of what may be the case for your mother, since  to obtain that average, some people did much worse and some much better, during a past period when many of today's (and tomorrow's?) treatments were not available.

My very best wishes to you and your mother.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for the kind words.

My mother started chemo last week. She is now very fatigued and nauseated. I suppose this means that the treatment is working as intended.

Does anyone have any suggestions for something to help ease her symptoms or comfort her during this period?

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Avatar_f_tn
I just got through with 8 rounds of two different kinds of chemo--the first one being FEC, and Taxol.  I weathered it pretty well, but for me the worst part was the mouth sores that accompanied the chemo.  Your mucous membranes get so dried out, and that is when the mouth sores set in.  Have your mom drink ice water while she is having chemo, it will prevent the chemo from going to her mouth.  Then, I found an over the counter relief at Walmart that saved me and I never got another mouth sore after that--it's called Biotene, and I used the toothpaste, mouthwash and gel along with the spray to keep my mouth hydrated.  I highly recommend this for your mom--if you can avoid mouth sores and keep your nutrition going, along with keeping up your strength, you will come out way ahead of the game.  I am sorry your mom is going through this--my mom and I are going through bc together, she was diagnosed a week after me--she didn't have to have chemo though--her fix was a lumpectomy and radiation.  God bless you and your mom--
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm not sure of the details, but she was contacted by her doctor on Friday late evening.

He told her that her kidney function test from her follow-up visit came back abnormal and asked her to go to the E.R. for testing / treatment / etc.

They gave her I.V. fluids for several hours and took several blood tests. According to the E.R. docs, the results "weren't where they should be." She was released from the E.R. at 2am.

I'm assuming that this change is a result of her chemo / treatment, but would like to hear some additional thoughts.

Thanks.
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Avatar_f_tn
FYI - this follow-up was after her initial chemo treatment. From what I've been told, this was the most aggressive treatment that she will receive. This treatment was approximately 2-3 weeks ago.
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