Fill Out Your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...

Biopsy pathology report has me confused & scared

nottodaysatan Member Posts: 2
edited September 2022 in Just Diagnosed

Hi, everyone! I have read through the stickied posts and I have a call into my radiologist’s office but I’m feeling mighty panicked right now and was hoping someone else has been in my shoes and can share their experience while I am waiting for an answer.

I had a biopsy to my left breast and left armpit last week. The radiologist called me when he got preliminary results to tell me I do have cancer and there was cancer in the lymph node as well. Then I got a call from his assistant to tell me that I would be seeing oncology before the surgeon. Last night I got a notification that test results were loaded to mychart so I opened it up and it says I have metastatic breast cancer. I took this to mean I have stage iv cancer as that is what ‘metastatic’ means to me. But, I thought staging came with excision pathology and imaging. I’m terrified and confused. Someone on Reddit told me that it’s just referring to the lymph node involvement as Mets.

Has anyone else seen the term metastatic used in this way and it wasn’t stage iv?


  • piperkay
    piperkay Member Posts: 132
    edited September 2022

    Hi nottodaysatan, I can understand why you would feel terror and confusion! What I can't understand is why medical offices feel the need to post documents on patient portals before the doctor even speaks to you. These portals can be very useful, but not this way. I hope that you can talk to a qualified human being soon so you can get this all sorted out because sometimes words don't have the meaning they seem to have.

    Sending good vibes your way!

  • btwnstars
    btwnstars Member Posts: 81
    edited September 2022

    I'm so sorry you find yourself here. I am not sure why the report would say it that way if you haven't had any other scans or pathology done. Contact office and ask for someone to call you back.

    The posting of documents on portals isn't up to the offices themselves, it is regulated by state law. So that's why sometimes it shows up there before a chance to speak to doctor. Which is a good thing bcz for so long patients were unable to get their results in timely way. But yea, good/bad to all things.

    Wishing you the best. The beginning of diagnosis is terrifying and confusing, try to take it one step at a time, once you get a proper diagnosis and plan of action you will feel better. Take care.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,375
    edited September 2022

    NotTodaySatan--yes, I had the exact same wording on my labs when I had an affected lymph node. It was not a metastasis as far as staging but just the way they worded the report. In my case, the "metastatic" referring to the lymph node in breast cancer is still considered "local" cancer. It is used differently than metastatic referring to spread to other body parts. They would only know about distant spread with other scans. Try to relax and wait to discuss the findings with your doctor. I'm so sorry for your diagnosis. Take care.

  • kaynotrealname
    kaynotrealname Member Posts: 346
    edited September 2022

    Yes to your question and that is the most common way to refer to it in fact. It simply means the breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes. It has nothing to do with it spreading elsewhere and in fact a simple biopsy can't confirm that anyway. So in summation no one is even thinking you have a stage 4 diagnosis right now. And the odds are highly in your favor you don't. It only occurs 6% of the time with initial diagnosis. Metastatic Lymph node involvement, however, is very common because that's what the lymph nodes are supposed to do - catch the cancer cells before they go elsewhere.

  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    edited September 2022
    Just chiming in to say I had the same thing in my reports when I was Stage 2. They referred to the cancer in my nodes as metastatic and I had a little meltdown. That's how they describe it because it's cancer outside of the original source. But for breast cancer it's still considered a local cancer. Not at all the same as cancer that has spread to bones, distant nodes, etc. So don't panic! As others have said, being Stage 4 from the beginning (de novo) is very uncommon.
  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,693
    edited September 2022

    nottodaysatan, we're so sorry for your new diagnosis, but we're glad you found us and received such great support from our members. We understand how confusing and frightening the first few days can be, so we would be happy to assist you with any further information you need. We're all here to support you!

    Kind wishes to you,

    The Mods

  • emotionalpond
    emotionalpond Member Posts: 31
    edited September 2022


    My report said the same thing. It was referring to the cancer that was in my lymph glands. I had stage 2 with 3 lymph glands involved.


  • nottodaysatan
    nottodaysatan Member Posts: 2
    edited September 2022

    Thank you everyone for responding! I did call my radiologist and he confirmed what everyone here shared. I have an oncology appointment later this week and an mri today so hopefully I’ll have more info by the end of the week. This is the hardest thing I have ever done and I’m very grateful this community exists

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,693
    edited September 2022

    Hi again NotTodaySatan,

    We're so happy to hear you've gotten some clarification and you're feeling a little better. Please keep us posted with how your MRI goes and your oncology appointment as well. We're all here as you navigate your treatment (and beyond!).

    Thinking of you,

    --The Mods