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Avatar universal

HELP!!! Please can someone enlighten a confused and frightened newly diagnosed secondary breast cancer patient?

I have just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Grade 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.Ultrasound/mamogram showed that it had not mastecised. Having a full body CT and Bone scan that day showed a 19mmX16mm tunour in sector 7 of my liver.  My oncologist has started me on FAC chemotherapy (10 days ago) BUT - am confused...He says I have stage 4 Breast Cancer, but my breast tumour path reports say it's a grade 1.  My tumour marker is 25.4 ( he was pleased with this.??)    My question is..What does the Grade 1 refer to???? what does it mean if I have stage 4 breast cancer??  Please can someone help me?
4 Responses
1119363 tn?1330359040
Grade 1 usually refers to the characteristics of your breast cancer tumor, especially size.  Grade 1 would be a small tumor.  

Stage 4 means that you have cancer in more than one place.  In the breast and in the liver.

The tumor marker is a substance found, often in blood, that indicates the presence of disease, such as cancer.  A test for a marker will produce a count that can be an indication of how active the cancer is.  Usually a lower count is good news.  I am not familiar with liver cancer and tumor markers for it, so I can't comment on a level of 25.4, but if your oncologist is pleased, I'd would be encouraged.

Your best information will be from your doctors who have all of your test results and can explain everything to you and get your input on your treatment options.  When you ask, "What does it mean if I have stage 4 breast cancer?"  If means that your cancer began in the breast and has spread somewhere else.  Your treatment will be more aggressive than if the cancer had not spread and may include different drugs or therapies than if it had not spread.  You may want to check the "breast cancer stage 3 & 4" community on this website for me people who have had experiences like yours.  Many of them have very positive experiences and will encourage you through your treatment.  There are many people who successsfully treat stage 4 cancer.   Your doctors are the ones who can give you the best ideas of a prognosis.  Do not be afraid to ask questions until you are no longer confused.  The doctors and nurses are your teammates in fighting this diseaase, but you are the head of the team.  I am thinking of you.  
Avatar universal
Thank you so  much, I will look at teh stage 3 & 4 community pages.  My oncologist is such a lovely and informative man, I am just too frightened to ask some questions, because I am terrified of the answer he may give me....Bucket in sand does spring to mind... but this is all so new and quite frankly I am terrified.Have been given something to help me sleep at night, may ask him for something to help me during the day....  Thanks again..
1119363 tn?1330359040
Please feel free to come back to this thread and ask more  questions here or send me a message.  You are now one of us and we support each other.

Your feelings are entirely normal.  During the time of diagnosis, you're dealing with the shock of it and the difficulty of waiting for results.  Gather your strength and determination and focus on what you know.  Each test reveals a little more about your situation and helps you and your docs determine your plan of treatment.  Try not to let the "what-ifs" give you anxiety.  It is normal for your mind to wonder about every possibility, but do not let it be obsessive and negatively focused.  Focus on what is known and the next step and what you are going to do about it.  Look at your doctors and nurses as your team.  They are there to support you.  Do not be intimidated by their position - ask your questions.  The more rapport you have with your team and the more you understand the better you will all work together.  Your doctor should give you factual information in a kind manner and help you deal with it.  Hopefully there are support groups available to you also.  These can be of other people who have battled cancer, counseling and educational programs through your treatment center or hospital, a cancer society, or other organization.  When you talk to others who have walked this road, you see hope and find the strength within you.  We are all so much stronger than we ever suspect.  You are strong and your loved ones, friends, medical professionals and even strangers, like me, are all with you.

In the meantime, remember that you are so much more than a cancer patient.  Feed your soul by surrounding yourself with people who lift you up, doing things that make you smile, and researching the next step of testing or treatment (avoiding those offbeat websites.  As they used to say on some TV show- "Just the facts ma'am".)   To keep you strong, I think it is important to find things that give you pleasure and make you smile or laugh every day.  Your friends can help with that and it is easier to ask for that kind of support.  

When I had chemo I was very sick.  I had a friend who sent me a photograph or two every week of beautiful flowers.  I live in Ohio, in the US.  In January and February, it is cold and grey and snowy.  Those bright flowers blooming lavishly in the warm summer sun were great medicine to me.  I put them up at work, at home, and they made me smile when I was feeling sick, tired, and depressed.  And they reminded me that someone was thinking about me.  I am thinking of you.  
962875 tn?1314213636
In response to yoour original question about the meaning of Grade and Stage, they are  separate things.

The Grade refers to the how much the cancer cells look like normal cells. Grade 1, also called well-differentiated, look more like normal cells and aren't considered aggressive.They grow  slowly and metastasize slowly. Grade 2  cells are moderately aggressive. Grade 3, also called poorly differentiated, are more likely to grow faster and to metastasize.

The system most often used to describe the  growth and spread of breast cancer is the TNM  Staging system. Information  about the tumor, nearby lymph nodes, and distant organ metastases is combined, and a Stage from I to IV is assigned.

A cancer's Grade along with its Stage is used to determine treatment.

I am glad to hear your oncologist is a lovely and informative man, so that you will have a good partner at your side on your cancer journey, who can provide all the answers you need, as you are ready to hear them.

Best wishes...
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