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Topic: is thickening in breast ever NOT cancer? need reassurance...

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried — Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time.

Posted on: Apr 14, 2012 11:08PM

youngmomoftwo wrote:

i have found a very tender thickening in my left breast - (like ropy rubber bands) that has developed over the past few months, with a thick almost like a good-n-plenty candy piece lump in my armpit... i've had a history of lumps on my left side - (ultrasound and mammogram two years ago came back clear) and a ultrasound last year... also supposedly clear. but this time, i'm really scared.

 i have a 5 month old baby and a little girl 3 years old. i'm so terrified. i live overseas in a country with socialized medicine so the wait is 3 weeks for ultrasound, 3 weeks then for a general surgeon to review case, then week or two wait for biopsy after that. i am so freaked out i am driving the whole family up to the big city (5-6 hours away) and booked in a specialist center where i can get an ultrasound and meet with a surgeon same day - but it's next week (the soonest i could get) and i'm going INSANE with worry. my toddler is supposed to start preschool that week (we're in a year round system) and my baby is so little. i nursed my eldest till she was 2 1/2 and hoped to do that with this little boy... 

 i guess i could just use some hand holding and reassurance that perhaps it's nothing? but my instincts tell me something has always been up with this left side. now i'm terrified it's inflammatory BC and i'll barely have time with my little children. 

Do things like this ever turn out to be nothing? i've had plugged ducts and mastitis in the past, and this feels absolutely nothing like that. a distinct different area in the breast and the lump that feels oblong, rather than round. i've noticed both for the past few months and now worried it has been here longer but i just chalked it up to pregnancy and early feeding issues rather than having it investigated earlier. my general surgeon whom i saw a couple times before for this dismissed me as saying i was 'young and educated' so stop worrying! and now that the symptoms are more serious, i'm absolutely freaked out. i can't stop crying and i don't want to worry my sensitive little girl... any advice or help please?

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Apr 14, 2012 11:11PM, edited Apr 14, 2012 11:13PM by CoolBreeze

Not only is a thickening in the breast not always cancer, it is almost always NOT cancer.  I'm glad you are checking it out but if you think about it, out of the women who have a lump, only a small percentage of them have to have a biopsy, and out of all the women who have biopsies, 80% are not cancer.

And, those are the typical 'cancer" type lumps - hard, round, immovable.  Many many women have thickened areas in their breasts that come and go  - it's normal breast tissue.  Oblong areas are commonly cysts.

You are smart to get it checked out but do your best not to worry about it too much during your wait.  You almost certainly have something benign - in fact, I'd bet on it. 

Ann's cancer blog: www.butdoctorihatepink.com .....multicentric/multifocal IDC/ILC+DCIS/LCIS/ADH Official dx? "Your breast was a mess." ~UniMastectomy/Chemo/Herceptin/Tamoxifen/Recon Almost Done! Oh wait. mets to liver 5/21/11 Now Stage IV

Dx 8/17/2009, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Apr 14, 2012 11:15PM cheryl1946 wrote:

I agree with CoolBreeze.

Please try not to worry,although I know it's hard not to.

DX 7/6/11 with stage IV at the start;mets to several bones No surgery,rads,or chemo letrozole failed after 17 mos. 2 other hormonals failed; now on to xeloda

Dx 7/6/2011, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 2, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 14, 2012 11:51PM Kicks wrote:

As Cool breeze said. - of the 80% of all biopsies are benign so 20% do come back positive for BC. I will add that only between 1% and 5% of that 20% will be IBC. It is rare. It also does not normally present as lumps and is rapid in growing - can literally present over night.

Get checked out but do not expect the worst - it's possible but not likely.

Dx 8/7/2009, IBC, Stage IIIc, 19/19 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-Chemotherapy 08/25/2009 Adriamycin, CytoxanSurgery 10/21/2009 Mastectomy (Right); Lymph Node Removal (Right)Chemotherapy 11/11/2009 TaxolRadiation Therapy 02/04/2010 ExternalHormonal Therapy 02/11/2010 Femara
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Apr 15, 2012 12:00AM youngmomoftwo wrote:

thanks for the reassuring words. i've been scaring myself thinking it could be IBC or the Lobular type as it could have been missed previously and it just feels different -- this side, this section of the breast feels so "wrong" would be the best way to describe it - the whole side tender to the touch and now just a completely different texture than the rest of the breast... - it's so tender sometimes when my baby brushes against it at night it hurts... there is growing bands of thickening - they started small, but now have gotten quite large (within the past couple weeks they've grown) - i'm still really scared... compounded by the fact that we live in a tiny country... was small and thin, now about an inch or two wide, two inches long at least... the lump under the arm indistinct borders... i'm trying to take heart with the fact that chances are it's not, but something instinctively feels wrong...  thank you so much for listening.

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Apr 16, 2012 02:59PM andrea76 wrote:

Fingers crossed for you I can relate to your worries as I've just had a cyst and been told i have fibrocystic breast disease.  If your talking about it feeling like a rope that apparently is quite common with fibrocystic breasts..i think i have one area that feels like a very narrow rope.

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Apr 18, 2012 10:36PM youngmomoftwo wrote:

thank you all for responding. i can't tell you how worried i am - but especially coolbreeze - you allowed me a couple nights of sleep - i haven't slept in weeks - so thank you. we leave to drive up in the middle of the night tonight (so both kids can sleep in the 6 hour car ride)... appointment first thing in the morning. scared but trying to remain hopeful.

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Apr 21, 2012 05:54PM, edited Apr 21, 2012 05:54PM by upatnight

This Post was deleted by upatnight.
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Apr 21, 2012 06:06PM CoolBreeze wrote:

Well good luck to you, youngmom.  Please post back and let us know what the answer was.  I hope it was just an infection or something easily cleared up.  

Ann's cancer blog: www.butdoctorihatepink.com .....multicentric/multifocal IDC/ILC+DCIS/LCIS/ADH Official dx? "Your breast was a mess." ~UniMastectomy/Chemo/Herceptin/Tamoxifen/Recon Almost Done! Oh wait. mets to liver 5/21/11 Now Stage IV

Dx 8/17/2009, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIa, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+
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Apr 24, 2012 05:33AM youngmomoftwo wrote:

just back from the specialist and they say it's an enlarged lymph node only - 1.5 mm (they start to worry at 3 mm apparently) but i was so relieved i forgot to ask any other questions... hoping it's not a sign/pre-sign of anything? but for now, am happy that the ropy area was just deemed normal breast tissue (fibrocystic) and the lump a lymph node, though very enlarged. wondering what to do now as it's been enlarged for two months now... getting some sleep and rest for the time being after big scare... thank you all so much for support and listening. it helps to not feel alone!

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Apr 24, 2012 01:12PM marie5890 wrote:

Youngmomoftwo,

Reading your posts I am left wondering something. Did you have any imagining done? Mammo? US?

You used the word "specialist". Does that mean they were a breast specialist? Or some other kind of specialist? 

DO NOT READ ANYTHING INTO THE TECH'S EXPRESSION OR WHAT THE TECH SAYS. Jan '11 Biopsy Dx-ed a PASH tumor (rare, but benign tumor)....All I ask is for peace and serenity to the depths of my soul. Makes the rest of life more live-able.

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Apr 24, 2012 09:36PM youngmomoftwo wrote:

it was an ultrasound and it was a breast specialist - a doctor - who did the ultrasound. i meant to write cm instead of mm actually... so the lymph node is 1.5 cm and they said they only worry when it's 3 cm? but of course, i'm still worried because it feels huge and painful and i'm a tiny person (only 5 foot) so wondering if it translates to actually quite large for a small person, if you know what i mean? and they didn't offer any follow up/course of action. it's here in new zealand where they're way more laid back about any and all health issues (free healthcare i suppose) - we went to a specialist in the city where you have to actually pay to have the testing done rather than wait a month in the public healthcare system (i couldn't wait)... so i'm hoping it's still ok? i'm still worried...

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Apr 25, 2012 11:18AM upatnight wrote:

can you carry your report to another doctor for a second opinion? or maybe via internet or mail, you could send the report out for a second opinion.  

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Apr 25, 2012 05:15PM kt1966 wrote:

Hi youngmom. I know what you mean about laid back! So hard when you want action.

Any chance you can get rescanned in say 3 months- hard to wait that long, but then you can see if anythings changing? Or maybe get another opinion & maybe a fine-needle aspiration of the node?

I had an enlarged node a while back, US done by radiologist & she had me come back in 3 months to see if had changed- it hadn't- & gave me the option of FNA if I didn't want to wait 3 months...

Its your body & you know it best, so you need to have peace of mind- which may mean a second opinion. See if your GP can get you into the public system since you've already spent $, by the time you get in the scan can tell you if anything has changed- take the films you have with you too.

Hope that helps. Thinking of you. 

Age at Diagnosis: 37

Dx 12/11/2003, ILC, 4cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 12/16/2003 Mastectomy (Right); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Right)Chemotherapy 02/25/2004 Adriamycin, CytoxanRadiation Therapy 05/26/2004 ExternalSurgery 10/08/2013 Prophylactic Mastectomy (Left)
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Apr 26, 2012 05:56PM youngmomoftwo wrote:

i know - i called the doctor who did the ultrasound today and he said he saw absolutely nothing to worry about and that i probably  never noticed the lymph node before, but honestly, i am a bit obsessive about checking myself and it's definitely new - the lymph node being swollen. he said perhaps get it rescanned in a few months, but it will probably always be that way! i'm not sure what to do or what to believe at this point. it was supposedly the best clinic in the country, too - - private so expensive with breast surgeons and specialists on site (most places here you just go to an ultrasound clinic then meet with a general surgeon - no specialists nearby -- about 5-6 hour journey to where we went!)

kt1966 - did your lymph node come back as cancer? was that how you found it? 

i think i will have a rescan in a couple months and take current films and then hope the general surgeon will have some ideas what to do.. if not, send the scans perhaps to another specialist 5-6 hours away again...? just frustrated living in small town new zealand! i'm an american so used to a plethora of specialists!

 thanks for the advice!

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Apr 26, 2012 06:45PM kt1966 wrote:

Youngmom, this happened at the end of last year, and turned out to be ok- nothing changed in the 3 months.

Originally (1999) tho the first sign I had breast cancer was an enlarged node, it was going to be removed but the surgeon decided at the last moment it was too small (after I had the premed!). Fast forward 4 years & I had a lump in my breast (didn't show on mammo, & vaguely on US) was removed by lumpectomy- then had to have mastectomy because it was bigger than they thought- & I had 4 positive nodes (1 3cm & full of it). If I knew then what I know now I would have insisted he go ahead with the surgery! 

Not that I'm saying that this will happen to you, but at the very least I think it should be rechecked in a couple of months. Maybe FNA to be sure... You need to ensure that you are happy with the level of care you get for peace of mind. 

Its a shame these private clinics don't always take your concerns seriously- I know I had a scare earlier last year when I just didn't feel right & went to one in Auckland & felt like I got the brush off- but it turned out my tumour markers were rising- saw someone else & have started on new meds to kick its butt. 

Age at Diagnosis: 37

Dx 12/11/2003, ILC, 4cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 12/16/2003 Mastectomy (Right); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Right)Chemotherapy 02/25/2004 Adriamycin, CytoxanRadiation Therapy 05/26/2004 ExternalSurgery 10/08/2013 Prophylactic Mastectomy (Left)
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Apr 26, 2012 08:25PM kt1966 wrote:

Just wanted to add- chances are your lymph node is nothing to worry about...

 I guess what we interpret as a brush off is meant to be reassuring on their part, the majority of cases are nothing to worry about. Maybe their bedside manner needs attending to?

I think watch & wait is probably ok, most cancers aren't too fast growing anyway, but you need to feel confident in the person who is watching it for you.

Hope you manage to find peace of mind soon Smile 

Age at Diagnosis: 37

Dx 12/11/2003, ILC, 4cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery 12/16/2003 Mastectomy (Right); Lymph Node Removal: Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Right)Chemotherapy 02/25/2004 Adriamycin, CytoxanRadiation Therapy 05/26/2004 ExternalSurgery 10/08/2013 Prophylactic Mastectomy (Left)