Breast Cancer Blog

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sue had an appointment with her regular doctor today to check her blood pressure. Her blood pressure has been all over the board since her physical on August 8th. Sometimes it is high. Sometimes it is normal. While she was in the hospital, they gave her some blood pressure medication when it was high. Her regular doctor decided today to start her on a new prescription for high blood pressure. One more prescription we now have to keep track of.

He also looked at her incisions and said they looked good. In his opinion, she is healing very nicely. He also gave us a printout of the pathology report from her surgery. The report says her cancer was Grade 3 of 3.

Grade is a score that tells how different the cancer cellsí appearance and growth patterns are from those of normal, healthy cells. A pathology report rates the cancer on a scale from 1 to 3:

  • Grade 1 or low grade cancer cells look a little bit different from normal cells, and they grow in slow, well-organized patterns. Not that many cells are dividing to make new cancer cells.
  • Grade 2 or intermediate/moderate grade cancer cells do not look like normal cells and are growing and dividing a little faster than normal.
  • Grade 3 or high grade cancer cells look very different from normal cells. They grow quickly in disorganized, irregular patterns, with many dividing to make new cancer cells.
  • Even though Grade 3 is the worst, it is also the most vulnerable to chemotherapy, which works by destroying cells that divide rapidly. Cells dividing rapidly is one of the main properties of cancer. This means that chemotherapy also harms cells that divide rapidly under normal circumstances, such as cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract, and hair follicles. This explains why people lose their hair on chemotherapy. Since cancer cells are mutant cells, they cannot repair themselves. Normal cells on the other hand, can repair themselves, which explains why the hair grows back after chemotherapy is done.

    I also asked the doctor about the apparent rapid growth of the tumor, since the ultrasound a month earlier had it at 1.5 centimeters while the pathology report has it at 2.4 centimeters. He said he did not think it grew that fast. He said it was probably 2.4 centimeters at the time of the ultrasound, and that the ultrasound is not very accurate in judging the size of a tumor.

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