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Topic: Radiation "rash" 2 years after treatment?

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After — What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Nov 30, 2009 02:22AM

SharonInMO wrote:

Hi all,

 I had Stage III breast cancer in April 2007, and finished my last radiation treatment 23 months ago.  My skin peeled and look a bit "tanned" for several months after that.  It then went back to normal.

 Two days ago, I looked in the mirror and saw that the treated breast had an all-over red rash--sort of "spider veins" virtually in the same spot where I had the radiation treatment.  I looked this up online, and just get about 10,000 hits saying I must have inflammatory breast cancer.

 I'm an American in Turkey, and we're in the middle of a holiday like Christmas, so my oncologist is closed for a few days.  I was wondering if I should panic and find somebody to diagnose IBC... or whether it is common for more "suntan/sunburn" to rear it's head nearly two years after radiation treatment?

 Thanks,

 Sharon in Turkey

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Nov 30, 2009 06:23AM rreynolds1 wrote:

Hi Sharon,

I'm sorry you are going through another scare.  I did some research on the web myself and it seems there could be a number of reasons for a rash so I wouldn't panic.  It is one of the signs of IBC but I could find nothing linking radiation treatment to causing IBC.  My radiated breast is very different inside.  Firmer and heavier.  Could they be more sensitive to environmental things like soap, etc.  I really don't know.  Definately see someone as soon as possible because until you do you will be stuck in this fearful place.  I wish I could be of my help.

Please keep us informed.  I will be thinking of you and sending you hugs.

Roseann

Roseann

Dx 2/2/2009, ILC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 30, 2009 09:48AM TammyLou wrote:

Yup.  I periodically get mysterious rashes on my stenum and back.

No IBC.  Rash = yes.

tl

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Nov 30, 2009 10:06AM JO-5 wrote:

Sharon in Turkey,

I am almost 6 years out. In the first year I had to have a punch biopsy because of a rash. It was B9 --- and the rash was from wearing clothing next to the radiated area without washing and double rinsing them. It was a reaction from the formaldehyde and fire retardant that is in all clothing.

Two years later I had another punch biopsy because of another rash --- this turned out to be from some new lavender lotion that I used! (Never was allergic to Lavender and only broke out on the areas that had radiation).

Today, I still wash and DOUBLE RINSE my bras, pj's, etc. any thing that will touch that area. I use only Dove soap for sensitive skin and Gold Bond lotion for the dryness.

I am told this is rare --- but that some women have these issues many years out from treatment because the radiation doesn't completely leave their bodies like most and any little thing can cause a reaction.

Another thing that can cause a rash reaction on a radiated part is a heating pad! That is a NO- NO for people like me.

Maybe this is your problem...... hope it is ...... because it is easy to control.

As always, better safe than sorry so still see your dr.

Meanwhile try to remember if you have done ANYTHING different or worn any thing new without washing it and double rinsing....... This can occur a long way out.

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Dec 7, 2009 01:20AM SharonInMO wrote:

Hi everybody,

 I thought I'd follow up for anybody who was curious.  I was pretty sure it was IBC (though holding out some hope for the rash reaction theory), and it took me 5 days to get in to my oncologist for an apt.  He took one look and said it was definitely NOT cancer.  Why?  Because it was everywhere I had been irradiated, including under the armpit, and on my back!  So it's definitely some sort of radiation recall.

 It's a mystery why it's happening.  I've been in Turkey for 2 years, and have used the exact same brands of soap, shampoo, dish soap, laundry soap, and laundry settings.  The only thing I changed recently was deoderant, but changed to one I have used in the recent past without an issue.  I'm also not taking any meds but Tamoxifen, which I've been on for two years...

 I'm making a dermotology apt., but luckily there is no pain or itching. 

 Thanks for your help,

 Sharon

Dx 4/2007, IDC, 1 cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 1, 4/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

Dx 4/2007, DCIS, 1cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 1, 4/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 8, 2009 08:15AM JO-5 wrote:

Sharon,

Have you worn ANYTHING NEW or that was DRY CLEANED that might have touched even some of the area that was radiated, even on your arm or at the top of your chest? If that is the cause -- the rash can spread from those areas to the entire radiated area.

Happy for you that it is not cancer and hope you can get to the bottom of it!

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Nov 15, 2010 07:14PM UrgyenDrolma wrote:

LAVANDER!!!  I had cancer in my breast 7 years ago.  I only did radiation and not chemo.  The radiated skill broke out a couple of days ago.  The other armpit is fine.  Beware of lavendar on radiated areas.  By the way, I don't have any other known allergies.

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Nov 30, 2010 04:04PM HollyHopes wrote:

hi - i KNEW there would be some other sisters out there dealing with late effects from radiation treatment...i finished my tx in 08/07 and just 4 months ago noticed a red hard lump in the area where the tumor had been.  i had it looked at, biopsied...all 'normal'. now the red, hardness is spreading right across the top of my affected breast.  i do not like this...

lumpectomy/dose dense AC &T/35 rads/7 boosts...treatment completed 8/31/07...reconstruction surgery 5/14/09 and 9/8/10!

Dx 2/7/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Nov 30, 2010 04:28PM, edited Aug 20, 2013 05:17AM by Jelson

sunday, two weeks ago I woke up with my bc breast red, swollen and painful. I was lucky enough to get into my radiation oncologist the next day and after careful examination was told it was fat necrosis (ugh what a name) an after-effect of radiation that can occur well after treatment. He put me on Aleve (naproxene - an anti-inflammatory) for two weeks and I will see him tomorrow for a follow up. It was pertty much where I had had radiation boosts and looked and felt like it had right after radiation. Anyway, the Aleve took care of the pain - which had been evident only on pressure.  The area is still harder than it had been. He said that there was a danger of infection and next steps might be blood thinner and vitamin E. I am thinking maybe the problem was I had taken a break from taking Omega 3 oil AND curcumin.

People ask me how I am doing, anything new and I say no, it is only here with you guys that I can share FAT NECROSIS

be well!  I will post what happens next, after my visit.

Julie E

Dx 4/17/2009, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Dec 1, 2010 06:30PM Jelson wrote:

update - had my follow-up appt today. Dr agreed with me - it is looking much better. I am stopping the Aleve gradually - 1x a day then every other day. He said if it hadn't looked so much better, the next step would have been an antibiotic - the blood thinner - which he said wasn't like coumiden and vitamin e would have come after the antibiotic.

He said that people's bodies sometimes experience "radiation recall", like a physical flashback.

SharoninMO I hope your issues resolve as well as mine. 

Take care all!

Julie E

Dx 4/17/2009, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Oct 17, 2011 08:37PM Jelson wrote:

bump

Dx 4/17/2009, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Oct 18, 2011 08:40AM artsee wrote:

Thank you so much..'Sharon in Turkey' for starting this thread, and to 'Jelson' for bumping this into action again. What a help! It's a scary thing and we all think it's IBC.

As some of you know this same thing started on me last week Thursday. Then the weekend came so first thing in the morning on Mon. I insisted on getting in the same day and the nurse obliged.Laughing After thorough exam the Onco called in the other Onco and they discussed this. I was pleased he spent 30 min. with me, and they did assure me it didn't look like the IBC they had seen, but nun the less were a little surprised at how it looked.After a mamo and ultra sound which the radiologist repeated himself I got a clean report. The three of them had a conference call and came up with "Delayed radial Reaction". And or "Radial necrosis.It happens to some soon after rads and way after. This must be my punishment for having NO trouble with my rads 3 1/2 years ago.

Now I am wondering if this stays with me or does it fade eventually. Of course I didn't ask. Duh.

Next week I have a follow up and they may do a skin biopsy. I don't know when this stops getting colorful or if it gets darker so I'll have to see. But yeah, it seems to be the area of radiation, having a strip under my arm pit in a straight line.

Thanks again and if anybody has input this would be a great time to put new bees to this crap at ease. Artsee

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 29, 2011 01:33PM JulieReneK wrote:

I was finished my radiation in July of this year. And in the past week have developed a bumpy type rash underneath my breast and also in the armpit area. I have not changed any lotions, laundry detergent, etc. Any ideas? Its itches like heck. Along with this breast being radiated, I had to have a 2nd biopsy on it post radiation and the Dr hit an artery so the breast is full of dried blood from bleeding for 3 hours!

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Nov 17, 2011 12:08PM JoanneUp wrote:

Finished radiation in April, and a month ago, I got an itchy rash. I saw my rad oncologist two weeks ago and will see her again next week for a follow-up. I am very worried about IBC! I don't have pain, swelling or 'orange peel' skin of the breast. I am having trouble sleeping due to anxiety. Creams, such as hydrocortisone, antifungal, which my ONC suggested, have not seemed to help much. Is it common to have a rash appear 6 months after radiation? I am careful & do not use soap on my breast or lotions or deodorant on that side. The rash is less visible in the morning, and becomes increasingly red by the end of the day. I have resorted to taking off my bra and wearing pj's early in the evenings to let it 'breathe' and hope that helps. Thanks for any feedback! I am new to the site and wish I had found it a long time ago!

JoanneUp

Dx 1/19/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIa, 1/20 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 19, 2011 09:14PM lisa2 wrote:

I, too, had the same symptoms which eventually was diagnosed as breast lymphadema. Neither the BS or Onc thought of this until I brought the possibility of breast lymphadema to them. Please check out the Step out Speak out lymphadena website to determine if your physician(s) should consider this possibility.

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Nov 20, 2011 01:22PM artsee wrote:

It sounds like 'radiation recall' to me. My Drs. said it can come on even years after rads are done. It's very weird but when you think about it, we have had a lots of things done to these girls and

it's their way of acting out. :(  I wouldn't worry about IBC, I know I did but the Drs. can look and see if it could be right away. They looked at mine and said 'no' right away so that definitely put me at ease......and then after two weeks it faded as fast as it appeared.

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 20, 2011 05:02PM Binney4 wrote:

JoanneUp, Lisa's suggestion sure sounds like a possibility to me. The first sign of truncal lymphedema can be inflammation that reddens the breast, and it is sometimes itchy as well. The immediate danger from that is a cellulitis infection, so do get help quickly if you notice spread of the rash, new swelling, warmth to the touch or flu-like symptoms.

Here's a page about breast/chest lymphedema from the lymphedema website Lisa mentioned:
http://www.stepup-speakout.org/breast_chest_trunckal_lymphedema.htm

It's great that you'll be seeing your doctor this week, and I hope you get prompt answers and a quick fix!

Gentle hugs,
Binney

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Nov 27, 2011 08:39PM Racy wrote:

Ladies, I too have just had a rash appear on my radiated breast 4 months after radiation. There is mild redness under the skin with blood vessels visible.

Who do you think I should get to look at it first? Rad onc, GP or lymphedema nurse? I think these practitioners would be easier to get an appointnent with than onc or BS.

Dx 2010, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 28, 2011 06:52AM Racy wrote:

Ladies, just a follow up to my previous post. I went to the ER and had blood tests, an ultrasound and antibiotics. Diagnosis likely cellulitis. I am going back tomorrow for review.

With these types of worries, I find going to the ER to be the best strategy, even though it costs a little more. You get seen promptly, can have tests immediately, the doctors are familiar with BC related issues and they can liaise with your on site specialists more easily if required. All resulting in peace of mind for us the patients.

Dx 2010, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 29, 2011 02:47PM, edited Nov 29, 2011 03:34PM by SkinSafety

This Post was deleted by SkinSafety.
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Mar 3, 2012 01:11AM, edited Mar 3, 2012 01:13AM by lamkins514

Hello - I am going on 4 yrs after my breast cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy & radiation.   I had a Stage 1 ductal carcinoma in situ, had a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy & radiation.  I took to radiation fine up until the last 3-4 weeks where I had HUGE burning blisters all over that breast, open oozing areas . PAINFUL!  I finally healed but have red/rash marks where I was the most blistered & open (or possibly where I received BOOSTS of radiation). . I have a fairly large rash that is over the top side of my breast in a band-like fashion where I had radiation.  It has always been there..  my nipple is a bit thicker in on one side than the other - where the radiation evidently hit.  I have never had any pain, huge tenderness (other than a normal radiated breast feels like)..  Now, my Dr. says the rash is looking a little darker than it used to, with a very light bluish tinge in spots...She told me not to worry but wants me to have a consult w/ the surgeon who originally did my lumpectomy so he can check it .. 'just to be sure'..  He wants me to come in next week for a punch biopsy of this rash..   I keep reading about IBC and though I do not have swelling, pain, inverted nipple, raised rash, heated rash, etc. - it is a 'rash-like' appearance though as I said I have had this since I have 'healed' from the blisters of radiation.  Should I be worried??  Oh.. when I push on this rash, it blanches (turns to the normal color of my breast but then within seconds of lifting my fingers off, it returns to this pinkish color)..  Again, I am somewhat worried whether this could be IBC or is it something else benign?  It has not spread either. .  a little dumbfounded as to if it could possibly be IBC?  I am nervous... 

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Mar 3, 2012 08:08AM Faith316 wrote:

Hopefully it isn't, but you do need to rule out IBC.  Get the punch biopsy.  I had previously had 6 months of chemo for my original dx of IDC and DCIS and was in the midst of my 30 rads tx when I had a rash starting.  I also had burns from radiation and everyone assumed the rash was a side effect from radiation.  Then, I started having all the other signs ----- thickened skin, peau d'orange, flattened nipple, hot swollen breast.  All my docs kept telling me it couldn't possibly be IBC because of all the chemo and radiation I had had.  I insisted on biopsy (I actually had an excisional biopsy as well as punch biopsy) and it was IBC.

You don't have all the symptoms I had and I'll be yours is not IBC.  But find out for sure.  Good luck.

DX 4/08 IDC, ER-, PR-, HER2+, IIB, Grade 3,lumpectomy,2/8 nodes,4 AC,12 wks.Taxol,Herceptin,30 rads. DX IBC 6/09 while still in treatment. Now Stage III. 6 mo. of Xeloda done, still on Tykerb. Uni-mx & another node dissection 2/4/10.

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May 31, 2012 10:22PM 3Cbrca wrote:

I was diagnosed and had treatment at the same time and a similar thing happened,. I had extensive radiation die to the number of positive nodes (22). I was told it was radiation damage and I still have it 5 up years later. I was told by one plastic surgeon that it could be treated with laser, but I never pursued it.

Dx 9/2006, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIIc, Grade 2, 22/35 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Chemotherapy 10/16/2006 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolSurgery 04/30/2007 Mastectomy (Both); Lymph Node Removal (Right); Reconstruction: Tissue expander placement, Breast implants (permanent), Latissimus Dorsi flap (Right)Radiation Therapy 05/07/2007 ExternalHormonal Therapy 06/15/2007 Aromasin
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May 9, 2013 09:58PM miss-marsha wrote:

Hi Ladies,

I my last of 33 rads treatments was Oct.31st 2012. I had some dental work done 4 months later, during which I had 4 x-rays. 3 days later I had a bumpy itchy rash only on the breast that was treated, and only in the areas that were affected by rads. I saw my rad Onc. the day after who confirmed it was radiation re-call. She prescribed steroids for the rash which went away quickly.

Last month I flew to Cali for the weekend and back home. I had to go through an X-ray machine. And....... You guessed it! I had another rash the day after I got back! Same treatment, however the Rad onc said this is a first for her with X-rays bringing on rad re-call. She has 20 years of experience.

Every body is different and this may not happen with you. I thought I would share my experience.

I'm avoiding X-rays of any kind until my first mammogram in July, which I'm already getting nervous about. It should come out clear. Keeping my fingers crossed! And all the Doctors are aware I may have a re-call.

Wish me luck!                                                                                   Marsha

Dx 7/31/2012, IDC, 1cm, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+Surgery 08/08/2012 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph Node Removal: Sentinel Lymph Node Dissection (Left)Radiation Therapy 09/17/2012 ExternalHormonal Therapy 11/01/2012 Tamoxifen
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May 11, 2013 07:25AM artsee wrote:

If you read my post up in the past somewhere you'll see what happened to me. I never associated what happened with xrays. Thinking about it, I did have a mamo in Oct. Of that year and later that month I had my breast turn 'purple' in a matter of days. Tiny little veins all over. They said it was radiation recall......but when it faded in a week , they weren't sure.

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 6, 2013 10:13PM Mariasnow wrote:

I'm dealing with this myself. After latissimus dorsi I have a thick area above my scar. Radiation Oncologist day after tomorrow.

Dx 3/2/2012, DCIS, 3cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+Surgery 03/23/2012 Mastectomy (Both)Chemotherapy 04/06/2012 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolTargeted Therapy 06/28/2012 HerceptinRadiation Therapy 10/08/2012 External, 3-D conformal external beam radiationSurgery 01/28/2013 Reconstruction: Breast implants (permanent) (Both)Surgery 08/07/2013 Reconstruction: Breast implants (permanent) (Left)Surgery 08/07/2013 Reconstruction: Latissimus Dorsi flap (Right)Surgery 02/25/2014 Reconstruction: Nipple reconstruction (Both)
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Nov 11, 2013 10:10AM artsee wrote:

Mariasnow.....What is Latissimus dorsi ? What does this spot look like? Is it colored?

Let us know what the Dr. says.

I had a very odd experience with something popping up but leaving in a week.

Good luck to you and hope it resolves itself.

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 13, 2013 07:46AM Mariasnow wrote:

latissimus dorsi is a type of reconstruction surgery that is often used after reconstruction fails in radiated areas. It uses back tissue to replace the radiated tissue that failed. I've been through all that. My Raditation Oncoloist thinks I have fat necrosis and nothing cancerous. So that's good news. I'm keeping a very close eye on it. I know someone who was told her recurrence was fat necrosis so she ignored it. Later she found it was recurrence and by the time is was properly diagnosed it had spread to her spine, liver, and chest wall. So I do feel relieved but I'm staying vigilant.

Dx 3/2/2012, DCIS, 3cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+Surgery 03/23/2012 Mastectomy (Both)Chemotherapy 04/06/2012 Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolTargeted Therapy 06/28/2012 HerceptinRadiation Therapy 10/08/2012 External, 3-D conformal external beam radiationSurgery 01/28/2013 Reconstruction: Breast implants (permanent) (Both)Surgery 08/07/2013 Reconstruction: Breast implants (permanent) (Left)Surgery 08/07/2013 Reconstruction: Latissimus Dorsi flap (Right)Surgery 02/25/2014 Reconstruction: Nipple reconstruction (Both)
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Nov 14, 2013 03:47PM artsee wrote:

Glad to here that Mariasnow. Yes, we have to keep a close eye on everything.

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 8, 2014 01:32PM PurpleMe wrote:

Hi Ladies

I finished treatment (lumpectomy, radiation and chemo) early 2009.  Now I am not having any issues with radiation recall on my breast (touch wood), however, every now and then I get this very itchy red/brown rash just below my right collarbone.  It's definitely in an area where I experienced radiation "burns" and the rash appears "out of the blue" every so often.   I have tried all sorts of creams to help with the itch and haven't found one that really works.  Any suggestions?

Thanks 

My life is an unfinished canvas waiting for the next brush stroke.

Dx 10/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 2/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 17, 2014 11:12PM artsee wrote:

Have your Dr. take a look at it.

Dx 1/15/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-