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Any advice, same breast 2 yrs later, small nodule near surface

So 2 yrs after my stage 1 left breast cancer treated with partial mastectomy and radiation daily for 3 weeks, to my surprise what seemed like a minor small nodule in same left breast, was just found cancerous. My Dr says surface ones like this tend to be aggressive, I am afraid to search the internet to confirm this. Just last Dec my mammo and ultrasound said everything was fine. I noticed the tiny lump very recently and wouldn't have brought it to the attn of the Dr, but she noticed it last week during the 6 month check up. So she has prescribed a CT and bone scan, says I cannot escape those to see if there are traces elsewhere in my body, and I certainly hope not. 2 yrs ago there was no trace in my lymph nodes, so again I am surprised that it seems to have come back. Does that mean small cells somehow remained after the tumor was removed? She says that this means I will have to have a full mastectomy of that breast after the scans. This is a big shock, after 2 years of thinking I had escaped after that first cancer diagnosis and treatment. I had also had the genetic test that indicated I was not at a high risk.

Does anyone have a similar reoccurrence experience, or a cancer diagnosed from a small nodule close to the skin surface?


  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,628

    happy hiker,

    I’m sorry you find yourself back in bc world. I can only address a small part of your post.

    - Breast cancer cells can travel through the blood stream as well as the lymphatic system. It’s also possible that a stray cell escaped your original tx. Neither of these scenarios is super common but neither are they unheard of.

    - I have a family history of bc and I belong to an ethnic group that has a higher likelihood of having BRCA genes than the general population. I have been tested for over 30 gene mutations and nothing has come up so far. There may be other genes related to bc that simply haven’t been found yet. Those diagnosed with bc as a result of genetic mutations are in the minority, 15-20%, despite what most folks believe.

    Hoping for an easy time for you and take care

  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    Recurrences are pretty common unfortunately. Treatment is never a guarantee that the cancer is gone. Hopefully your scans show no cancer anywhere else! And sorry you've found yourself back in cancer land again :(
  • happyhiker1
    happyhiker1 Member Posts: 26

    I am trying to find statistics on local recurrences and can't seem to find any. I've heard that it is fairly rare and that it is relatively common.

    I don't see any precise info at any of the breast cancer medical websites.

    Many thanks if anyone has sources where I could find this info.

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293

    happyhiker, you can use this site for recurrence stats

  • Racy
    Racy Member Posts: 974

    Happyhiker, yes it is a big shock but take one step at a time.

    I want to mention that I recently saw a post here about the possibility of being able to avoid a mastectomy in the case of a second cancer if you are over 55 and depending on the characteristics of the new cancer. I don't know if you are in this age group but wanted to mention it anyway.

    Here is the link:

    Wishing you the best possible outcome.

  • graceb1
    graceb1 Member Posts: 56

    i had a recurrence 2 years ago in the scar line of my mastectomy - 5 years after my mastectomy. I had all the tests run again but a simple lumpectomy was all that was need. That and going back on a AI. I had a repeat PET two months ago and all is clear.

  • happyhiker1
    happyhiker1 Member Posts: 26

    Thanks all for your feedback and comments. My scan results don't show spreading so I am grateful for that. It will have to be a total mastectomy since there is skin involvement, apparently potentially problematic ac to my surgeon. And depending on whether she can find a sentinal node to examine, might have to have all nodes removed. Not sure how there could still be a sentinal node, when she removed 8 nodes the first time around (2.5 yrs ago with lumpectomy).

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,628


    The sentinel node is simply the first node to show an uptake of blue dye or radioactive tracer. It is not different than other axillary lymph nodes it’s just at the “top”, closest to breast tissue and where the tracer/dye is likely to drain first. I am not an expert nor do I have medical training but my guess would be that the remaining node or nodes that are closest to the breast tissue have now become you sentinels. Sentinel just means watchman so any node that’s first in line is now your sentinel.You still have remaining nodes so those will be what are biopsied. If I am barking up the wrong tree, I hope someone will correct me.

  • happyhiker1
    happyhiker1 Member Posts: 26

    Many thanks exbrnxgrl for the very clear explanation about sentinel nodes! I wish my surgeon had been as clear; knowing that it is the tracer that indicates the sentinel makes it all much more understandable (something the surgeon didn't mention). So I guess if the tracer doesn't show up in any nodes then that is what she was explaining, that she would have to remove all the nodes for examination. I hope the tracer finds a sentinel!

    Again, many thanks for taking the time to explain this!

  • Bluegirl27
    Bluegirl27 Member Posts: 28

    I had DCIS 22 years ago with lumpectomy and radiation. I did not do Tamoxifen. I was diagnosed with a recurrence in May of this year and currently waiting on a surgery date. Going for single mastectomy.