Breast Cancer Blog

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We met with Juli at CentraCare in St. Cloud who is a nurse and breast cancer expert. She is the one who will coordinate all of the medical procedures that need to take place. She explained the type of cancer that Sue has. Then the surgeon came in to further explain her options and his recommendations.

Sue has Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in her right breast, which is the most common type of breast cancer. The cancer cells originate from within the milk ducts. The pathology report said the cancer feeds on the estrogen that her body produces. All hormone replacement therapy that she had been taking must stop, and she has to take an estrogen blocking drug for five years.

She is at a stage 1, which means the lump is small, and probably has not spread to any other part of her body. The lump is around 1.5 centimeters in length, which is a little over one half inch. The reason the mammogram did not detect the cancer is because she has high density tissue in her breasts. Mammograms do not always work for detecting breast cancer. If the doctor had not suggested the ultra sound, we would not know she has cancer and she would have waited for one more year before having another examination.

She has three options:

  • A lumpectomy, where they remove the lump but leave the rest of the breast. With this option, radiation is required 5 days a week for 6 weeks.
  • A mastectomy, which removes all of the breast tissue. No radiation is required.
  • A double mastectomy, which removes both breasts. No radiation is required.
  • We do not know yet whether she will need chemotherapy. The pathology report for the HER2-neu protein puts her at a 2+, which requires further testing to see whether or not the cancer is aggressive or non-aggressive, which determines how fast the cancer tends to spread.

    The surgeon suggests that she have a double mastectomy, because we do not know how many (if any) of the lumps in her other breast (which are normally benign) may also contain cancer. Without a double mastectomy, Sue would have to have intensive screening and biopsies over the years to see whether cancer develops in another spot.

    A double mastectomy also makes reconstruction symmetry easier. We set up an appointment with the plastic surgeon for Tuesday, September 4, 2012 to find out what he has to say before making a final decision.

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