Is a chest wall recurrence inevitably stage 4?
My MO threw me for a loop yesterday. In May I had a 0.8cm recurrence 10 years after DCIS. Imaging showed no spread and my surgeon got wide excision in the lumpectomy. I finished whole-breast rads a couple of weeks ago, started Lupron in July, and will start letrazole shortly.
In yesterday's appointment, I asked what I thought was a throwaway question: so what was my final staging? (I had forgotten to ask at my previous appointment) I expected him to say Stage 1a or 1b. Instead, he said that because no breast tissue was found with the lesion, that technically it was a metastatic recurrence, or stage 4. However, he said my case is a gray area and he had not used that language with me b/c stage 4 has certain connotations that are not applicable to my case. (Me = lesion fully excised; no spread anywhere else; no need for any/ongoing chemo).
So he's kind of turned my world upside down with the words "stage 4" and I'm in a new season of anxiety. Google searches for chest wall recurrences are not encouraging, even if my case has favorable characteristics (>10 yrs to recurrence, no lymphovascular invasion, relatively small lesion)
How should I think of myself? Am I a metastatic patient? Am I something else? Ahhhhhhhh!