i wanted to fallow up on this post. I initially asked if exercise pre-surgery would increase risk of cancer spreading.I posted initially July 17, 2008.
June 10th when I found my 1.6 cm breast lump by hand I had no swollen lymph nodes under my arm. June 18 when I went in for a diagnostic mammogram and sonogram I had no swollen lymphs to the touch, and no indication from the sonogram tech that I had swollen nodes. (I am not %100 sure if she ran the sonogram over my armpit-she did not run it over the other breast at all!)
June 26th I had a biopsy. After the biopsy my under arm lymph nodes started to swell and become sensitive.
When I went to the surgeon on July 7th at least two lymph nodes under my arm were sensitive, soft, and swollen. I pointed them out to the surgeon and told him that pre-biopsy I had no swollen nodes. He said that it was probably a response to the biopsy-my body responding to the invasiveness of the biopsy procedure, a normal lymph response.
Between my biopsy on June 26 and my surgery on July 24 the lymph nodes under my arm continued to swell and become hardened. I could in the end feel five swelling and hardening and I felt two actually tear open ( it was found in my surgery that two had indeed 'extra-nodal extensions) I actually felt them tear open when I was swimming-it felt like salt in a cut- tiny stings. This is when I posted my question here about whether exercise the spread of the cancer. After the biopsy and up until my surgery the tumor site went from completely insensitive to the touch-to heavy prodding and poking- to becoming more and more swollen and sensitive to the touch.
July 24, a month after the biopsy, I had surgery-a lumpectomy. I mentioned the growth of my lymph nodes to the pre-op nurse and she said that was not normal and concerning and asked if I had alerted my surgeon. I told her I had alerted my surgeon two weeks after the biopsy- but he felt the soft swollen nodes and felt it was normal post-biopsy swelling. He is a top surgeon in the field so I felt ok about that.
I did not call my surgeon and tell him that more nodes were swelling and hardening because of his reassurance, and because my surgery was within 2 1/2 weeks from when I met with him. I had tests to complete before I could have surgery, and was told it was normal time to wait- a month- between biopsy and surgery.
I have since read they use to do surgery and biopsy all at once. I understood this was done as a precautionary measure, as older biopsy methods were thought to possibly drag cancer cells out of the tumor into the breast when they were taking the biopsy sample. I understand too that they don't do biopsy and surgery in one procedures now so much. In my case maybe it would have been an advantage to have had the older procedure.
At any rate for me, within a month from biopsy I had 5 hard nodes under my arm. When I had my lumpectomy I had 7/27 lymph nodes involved. I have stage 3A, T2, N2, M0 , with Grade 3, Her+, Esro+ %50 proliferation rate cancer, lymph/vascular involvement. Very aggressive. I am 41. I have a very aggressive cancer at any rate.
So basically I went in one month from a lump with no sensitivity and no swollen nodes, to (after a biopsy) what seems a completely reacting cancer system.
I am following up just to inform others, and to say that if you find your lymph nodes after biopsy swelling and hardening, go in immediately and push to get your surgery date sooner.
For me, after most of my tests were done-none of them checking under my arm for lymph nodes-I had a sonogram scheduled the day before my surgery. There was another lump (benign it turns out) that they were investigating and were going to hold my surgery up-in order to biopsy this second lump. I was so worried about my swollen hardening lymph nodes at this point that I begged the sonogram doctor- to look at them with the sonogram. She reacted immediately. She had me pushed into surgery the next day because of what she saw. She was on the phone all night making it happen.
SO don't let it go if you find your nodes swelling and hardening after biopsy. Don't let it go an extra day.
It would be nice to know how long after a biopsy you should expect normal lymph node swelling, and when it is not normal. I wish I had known to go back to my doctor and push for a sooner surgery.
I hope this informs other women to fallow up immediately if your nodes are getting hard after having a biopsy.
I did swim up till surgery and after healing, and at first during chemo. The doctors said post surgery and during chemo that it would be a benefit to swim, it would cut down on risk for lymphedema and help build stamina for getting through the chemotherapy regime.
As to the pre-surgery post-biopsy exercise the doctors told me they thought it would not effect the cancer spread at all. None were well versed on that for sure. My cancer is of such an aggressive type it is hard to know if it was just the aggrivation of the biopsy that cause my cancer to inflame and spread so quick, or if the hard work-out/exercise of my arm in the pool had put any extra strain on my lymph system and weakened it the invasion of the cancer. My doctors did not think so. One doctor said the exercise cleaned out the lymph system, helped flush out toxins. I am just not sure how that flushing effects a spreading/ 'non-flushable' toxin such as cancer. It would be good to know if there is any research on this.
My lymph nodes got worse over the month's time. I felt them swollen in the pool most. But that could have been because I was 'feeling' my body more during exercise, and my lymphs could have been 'flushing' out my arms toxins and running into the cancer in my armpit at the same time. I was more sore and swollen under my arm after swimming. It was during swimming too that I felt the two lymph nodes under my arm tear open that I described above. That happened after I asked doctors if I could swim and they said no problem. It was such a scary feeling though that I decided to let up on the swimming hard after that. It would be nice to seem some studies done about post biopsy-pre surgery exercise to really know what is going on.