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2.3 cm. tumor takes how long to grow?

comingtoterms Member Posts: 52

Ok, I have been ruminating about this and wonder what others think:  I was told that it takes approx. eight years for a tumor to grow large enough to be palpable (approx. 2cm.).  After my MS last March, they found four lesions, the largest of which was 2.3 cm., and some DCIS as well.  None of this was picked up in a mammogram two months earlier. I was 48.

Does this mean that if screening tools were better, then more women would be diagnosed in their twenties and thirties?  I find this very frightening and worth discussion.  Certainly it is worthy of research?  Or does this research already exist?  Thanks for the input.  Tammy



  • Ezscriiibe
    Ezscriiibe Member Posts: 139
    edited February 2010

    It could take 8 years, it could take 8  months. The size of the tumor is less the issue than what feeds it or how it metabolizes.

  • comingtoterms
    comingtoterms Member Posts: 52
    edited February 2010

    Ezscriiibe, thank you.  So how do you know what feeds it or how it metabolizes?

  • weety
    weety Member Posts: 371
    edited February 2010

    I read somewhere one time that the slowest growing tumors may divide once every 180 days and the fastest growing can divide as often as once every 30 days.  Don't remember where I read it, but it has stuck with me since.  I think the growth of a tumor would be difficult to figure out because remember it would all be exponential (1 cell becomes 2; 2 cells become 4; 4 cells become 16; etc)

  • lrm216
    lrm216 Member Posts: 534
    edited February 2010

    A question that I think you will get many different answers for  - even from the docs.  Mine was 1.2 cm. - mammo every year since I was 40 - never even a call back.  I missed 2008 - daughter was hospitalized - cancelled and never made a new one thinking all will be fine.  Ha!  Went for my yearly in 2009 and found it - non palpable - showed on mammo.  Radiologist said could have been there a few years, just too small and in a place that was hard to see - BS said a year or two - onc said maybe a year - maybe less.  I am triple neg, so I think my nodule was probably a fast grower, but - in the end - I still don't know.


  • Ezscriiibe
    Ezscriiibe Member Posts: 139
    edited February 2010

    Well, I don't really know all the things that can "feed" it, but, for example, if you are ER+, you know that one of the things that is feeding your tumor is estrogen. Even if you have passed menopause, your adrenal gland still produces estrogen.

    If you are younger, well, even more estrogen floating around in your body, so the fuel is fairly easy for the tumor to access.

  • mom3band1g
    mom3band1g Member Posts: 87
    edited February 2010

    I find your question very interesting and one I wonder about as well.  I had my GYN checkup Aug 30 and found my lump the beg of Dec.  How could it go from nothing to a very palpable mass in 3 months?  I have just had my lumpectomy so I don't know 100% but the surgeon thought it was 1cm.  I am 39.  It just seems amazing to me that it could grow that fast. 

    Wanted to add additional info.  My tumor did not show up on mammo or ultrasound but did show on MRI.  The only reason it was found was because I could feel it and it was very close to the surface.  I am small breasted.  I had always joked that I was so flat chested that a lump would show not funny now.

  • comingtoterms
    comingtoterms Member Posts: 52
    edited February 2010

    I too, had a normal GYN breast exam in August 2008, clean mammogram in October 2008 and then found lump(s) in December 2008.  It simply doesn't make sense to me - I guess if there are no answers then perhaps that is why my Onc. keeps avoiding the question!  I am no scientist, but it seems like a very basic inquiry, and one that should have some kind of answer.

  • badger
    badger Member Posts: 24,938
    edited February 2010

    I find this interesting, too.  I've had pap/pelvic exams every year and routine mammos every 5 years for the past 20 years.  There was a 2.5 cm tumor growing in my R breast that wasn't found with any of the screening tools available.  It was found after routine digital mammo picked up some microcalcs that were of concern in Oct. forward to this week, post-bmx path report shocker of an inch-sized tumor in my breast.  I was not large-breasted and paid attention to these things given family history.  Not trying to placing blame anywhere, just makes me curious about how long it had been there and why we didn't find the doggone thing!

  • shadow2356
    shadow2356 Member Posts: 93
    edited February 2010

    My primary tumor wqas 1.7 cm. I had a few other sites in the same breast. I felt it in early August but I had a mammo in Nov 08 that didn't find it. I did not have a sonogram at that time. I saw 4 different breast surgeons. I got varying opinions but the range was that the cells were there from 5-8 years before it could be felt.

    I was told that breast cancer tends to be a slow growing cancer but the grade has a lot to do with how fast it grows. Mine was grade 3. They also told me that my pregnancy fueled its growth. In my case it was prob not due to pregnancy hormones (ER/PR-) but just because pregnancy fuels growth in general.

    I was told these things by a few doctors. However, I wonder how much they really know. It seems to me there is a lot of conflicting information out there. It really makes you wonder.

  • yasminv1
    yasminv1 Member Posts: 33
    edited February 2010

    Interesting question...I think I will ask my Onc. when I see him in a couple of weeks. I had a DCIS tumor as big as 5cm and had 3 other smaller invasive tumors. I was only 31 when diagnosed last year so I had never had a Mammorgram but I had yearly OBGYN Breast Exams since the age of 18 and my Docs never felt anything. Due to dense breasts they had to do Ultra sound guided biopsies on me and they had a hard time finding the lumps. The radiologist was surprised I even felt anything.

    I believe my DCIS was slow growing but I can't remember if they even gave me that information and only gave me info on the IDC. In any case, 5CM is big and if my DCIS tumor was slow growing and it takes about 8 years for a tumor to reach 2CM then my tumor might have started growing when I was in my teens. Yikes!!!

  • ananda8
    ananda8 Member Posts: 1,418
    edited February 2010

    The radiologist who read the mammogram saw a suspcious area.  It was immediately followed by a sonogram but the doctor doing the sonogram missed the tumor and gave my an all clear.  I found the lump myself 4 months later.  Stuff happens when people are involved and people are always involved.

  • candie1971
    candie1971 Member Posts: 2,467
    edited February 2010

    I find it to be interesting too.  Since I was 40 I had alot of fibroids. In 2004, they told me they were shrinking due to menopause, and I wouldn't need an ultrasound anymore, only mammogram.I skipped 2005 for not other reason than I forgot. When I went in 2006 they found a 2.5 in the same place that I had had a fibroid all those years. No one has an explanation for it. Could I have had it for 13 years??? No one knows!! One of is what it is!!

    hugs and prayers

  • thenewme
    thenewme Member Posts: 174
    edited February 2010

    The tumor growth rate depends on a lot of things, and I hate when they say it takes x number of months to grow or whatever.  For me, I'm triple negative which is generally very aggressive.  My tumor literally came out of nowhere and I could feel it growing between my diagnosis and surgery a month or so later.  This was confirmed by imaging, and by the time of my surgery, it was 5 cm. 

    As it turns out, my pathology report showed my Ki-67 to be at 100%, meaning that at the time of the test 100% of my tumor cells were actively dividing.  Yikes!   Anyway, the higher the Ki-67 rate, or proliferation rate, the faster it grows.  Is your Ki-67 rate listed on your pathology report?

  • icey
    icey Member Posts: 8
    edited February 2010

    Hi commingtoterms, I am no expert but from watching Dr. Oz if u are under 50 most cancers don't show up on mammograms. Thats why the recommendations for mammograms to raised to 50 was considered. Statistics that on 1 in 2000 cancer are found with regular mammo before age 50. It is higher if a digital mammo is used. A lot of women think they are safe having mammo's every year and that is not the case. I have a friend with stage 4 bc who had mammos every year and found the lump herself. I had a digital and they found mine at 48 but I never did feel the lump. The surgon said it was more like a thickness and could have been growing there for 10 years. The only screening tool that is better is an MRI but they are expensive and insurance companies won't pay unless u are high risk. Also they show a lot of false positives. I have also had two B9 mri biopsys. So there are no good answer for finding breast cancer early if u are under 50 or have very dense breasts.

  • corian68
    corian68 Member Posts: 86
    edited January 2011

    Hello Mom3band,

    I realize these posts are 1yr old but was hoping you might still get this response. Your situation sounds very similar to mine. I hope you are well. Nov 2010 I had mamm/ultrasound on some pesky lymphs. I am uninsured so it was through a cancer detection program. They showed benign but they advised me to come back in 6 mo.'s because I've had micro calcifications for a few years that need to be monitored. So I have a few more lymphs that start bothering me so the 6 mo.'s go by and another round of screening. Benign again. Of course I am advised to come back in 6 mo.'s. During this time the state guidelines for my program change from 40 and above to 50 and above. I am 42. My doctors tell me they don't apply to me because I am grandfathered in. Oct. 2010 during my monthly self exam I found a lump. My oh sh$t moment. It felt like a peppercorn under the skin, if I pulled the skin tight I could see it. I go in for my mammo/ ultrasound. The tech finished the test and says "she'll be right back" well the radiologist comes in with her and says " we have a problem" I told him to stop cuz I was gonna puke"! He says " no no I don't think it's a tumor but I don't know what it is"? It's not a lymph, not a cyst, not scare tissue. So he does the ultrasound himself. Has me hum as he does it - says if sound travels through it, then it generally not a tumor...whatever. In the end he says to wait 90 days and recheck. I told my doctor I don't want to wait.

    I want a biopsy. He agrees and schedules surgery. 2 weeks before surgery the program drops me because of that age thing that's not suppose to effect me. Total crap. So within 6 months I went from no lump to a 9mm lump that needs a biopsy and now I can't get one. Lame. Then the state changes back the guidelines on Dec. 1st 2010. On Dec. 15th I finally have biopsy, well 2 of them. Lymphs on one side and lump on other. The lymph nodes are clear but the peppercorn lump on the other side is stage 1 Ductal Carsinoma, boo! Aside from being scared to death, it just blows my mind how fast a lump can spring up?!

    Now I am waiting for approval from the program for a mastectomy. Waiting is so hard. I have 3 boys and a husband, it's very difficult to keep it together while waiting. Ehh

  • aussieched
    aussieched Member Posts: 87
    edited January 2011

    Hi, I am no expert, however, I was diagnesed with 18mm, Grade 1, IDC, sentinal node positive in 2007 at age 52.  I had been having regular mammograms for at least the previous 6 years, however they had all been clear.  When I was finally diagnosed, finally through a mammogram, the surgeon said that for the type of BC, and the extent it had grown, it would have been growing there for at least 7 or 8 years prior, but couuld not explain how the previous mammograms had missed it.Even after diagnosis, neither myself or the doctor could feel it.


  • lago
    lago Member Posts: 11,653
    edited January 2011

    It really depends. Some tumors grow slower than others. My tumor had a very fast proliferation rate, grade 3 and HER2+. I was told my grew really fast… that I only had my 5.5cm tumor for 4 years. This is not typical. Many people have has smaller tumors that have been around for 10 years.

    Typically PR+ ER+ tumors that are not HER2+ tend to grow slower especially grade1 or even grade 2.

  • KittyDog
    KittyDog Member Posts: 656
    edited January 2011

    My Dr.'s thought my 10cm tumor grew extremely fast as in less than a year.  I can't remember the exact rate but it was in the upper 80% rate.  Nothing was papable a year earlier.

  • stillwishing
    stillwishing Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2011

    wow. I just found out in dec 010, and my life has been turned upside down

  • MarieKelly
    MarieKelly Member Posts: 33
    edited January 2011

    I have always had very non-dense breast tissue, so don't have the problem of breast density obscuring things with mammograms.  I had my first mammogram at age 40 and possibly had another at age 41 but can't remember for sure. I then never bothered to have another one until age 49, so my tumor grew to slightly under 1 cm sometime during that 7-8 year span of time.  

  • D4Hope
    D4Hope Member Posts: 37
    edited January 2011

     I skipped my 2008 mammo knowing I always had calcifications. When I was diagnosed I was told I had a tumor that was 1.9 centimeters. After surgery five weeks later the tumor was found to be 2.5 centimeters. I had a grade 3+ tumor.

  • mdg
    mdg Member Posts: 1,468
    edited January 2011

    I had a mammo in sept of 09 and nothing showed. By June I had a lump that I felt myself.  Then it showed on the mammogram.  I am er/pr+, her2-, grade 2, stage I.  I don't trust mammos......

  • lago
    lago Member Posts: 11,653
    edited January 2011

    D4Hope It might not have grown that much in 5 weeks.  They can't always tell how big or small the tumor is. They told me my tumor was 7cm on the mammo and 6.5 on the MRI before surgery (actually 5.5cm). I know another woman that went in for a lumpectomy and they found a much larger tumor that required a mastectomy.

    They usually say+ or- 1 cm but that is not always true either

  • Smile_On
    Smile_On Member Posts: 66
    edited January 2011

    Mine measured 0.6cm at an ultrasound (never had a mammogram b/c of my age we went right from that to biopsy), and was 2.5 after surgery.  So either they were really off or in 1 month it grew fast.  (My surgeon & onc have repeatedly told me that my cancer is quite aggressive and fast growing.)  Maybe it was a combo of the two.

  • PixieNel
    PixieNel Member Posts: 48
    edited May 2012

    MIne is also a bizarre case.Last June 2011 , my mammo results came out clear and had 3 health screenings (april, sept and january) and all my breast exams are all normal. But came December, i just felt a big lump on my right breast. I waited till Febuary for consultation and 20/04/2012 then I got my surprise diagnosis. The tumour is already 3.2 cm. How did it grow so big in a short span of time.

    i really want to retrieve that June mammo file. I think sumthin was amiss. and next time, when i have mammo , i will accompany it with breast u/sound to catch the sneaky mass. 

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Member Posts: 7
    edited May 2012

    Two of my friends are have thermography in addition to mammo's. It might be a bit pricey, but thermography can detect tiny 'hot spots' well before mammo's. Just wanted to share that, A regular MD reads the results.


  • docziggy
    docziggy Member Posts: 2
    edited May 2012

    I've wondered this same thing since my diagnosis in March. I did a self-exam over the holidays and found nothing. End of February? 2 cm lump. Where the heck did this come from?!? The RO said "oh, that must have been there for at least a year" - really?? Then why did I feel nothing in December and huge lump in Feb? Mine is ER/PR+ and I'm young (35 at the end of May), so maybe those two factors have something to do with it? What the other docs on my team have all said is "every cancer is different and they all behave and respond differently" - for what that's worth.

  • Shrek4
    Shrek4 Member Posts: 519
    edited March 2013


  • lbrewer
    lbrewer Member Posts: 96
    edited May 2012

    I wish I knew too.  I have mammo every 6 months for the last 3 years.  Had biopsy 6 months ago and MRI and mammo 6 months before that.  NOw I have 4 cm tumor and 16 lymph nodes positive.  How long have they missed this thing? I am so angry!

  • Unknown
    edited May 2012

    Hi:)I had syrgery on my left breast last year ended up beein benign!Ductal papiloma tumor wit hypopleasa,metapleasa!I was told i was fine but need ultrasound for falow up 6 months afther!I went to my dr to get a referal for ultrasound,and she told me i dont need one bacouse she did the surgery her self and did take care of the whole lump!I waited 6 more months to get this done and finally she gives me referal to go for the ultrasound!Guess what?There is a 2cm lump there on the same breast!I need to go for biopsy and mamo next week,and im so upset and, angry,and afraid:(