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Oct 26, 2012 10:52AM
I'm sorry you are going through this. It is such an awful time.
Part of your "staging" will involve, not only the diagnostic process, i.e., mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy pathology confirming malignancy, but a number of other tests, as well. Your surgical pathology will be the most definitive and will include size of the tumor, number of lymph nodes affected, hormone receptor status, HER2 receptor status, the presence/absence of lymphovascular invasion, and a host of other details about your cancer.
Prior to starting treatment, you may, also, receive the following tests, which are, also, part of your "staging" because they add additional, important information about your general health. They include:
Complete Blood Count (including tumor marker tests) - to check for undiagnosed, underlying medical problems you may not be aware of and to check for any circulating tumor cells in your blood;
Bone scan - to check for signs of bone metastasis;
Abdominal ultrasound - to check for signs of liver metastasis;
Chest x-ray - to check for signs of lung metastasis, as well as to check for any underlying issues and the extent of them.
CT/MRI - to confirm findings of the above.
MuGGA scan - to check your heart's pumping function. This is a very important test prior to starting chemotherapy as some forms of chemotherapy can (but don't always) worsen existing heart issues.
In the United States, you will, also, likely have genetic testing to determine whether- or not you are BRCA+, as well as the OncoType test (if you are hormone receptor positive), which will give your oncologist an idea of how likely you are to recur with/without treatment.
All of the results - as well as your general health - will be taken into consideration when planning your treatment protocol. However, keep in mind that not all women experience all the side effects of a given treatment. Part of selecting your treatment plan will involve determining if the potential benefit of chemotherapy (i.e., will it add significantly to your long-term prognosis?) out-weighs the possible risks (i.e., worsening heart issues, etc.). Ultimately, the decision to go-ahead will be up to you and what you are willing to risk... or not.
"... good girls never made history ..."