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Topic: How fast can a tumor grow?

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried —

Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time. PLEASE DO NOT POST PICTURES OF YOUR SYMPTOMS. Comparing notes, symptoms, or characteristics is not helpful here, as only medical professionals can accurately evaluate and assess your individual situation.

Posted on: Jan 24, 2009 05:15AM

Rosekittyhawk wrote:

My last previous mammogram before finding this lump after Christmas was April '08.  Before sending my films off to Duke for my upcoming appointment I looked at all of them going back 13 years.  The recent finding which is very obvious on the 1/12/09 mammogram was definately not on the April mammogram.  Can a tumor grow that fast?  The sonogram shows a dense area as well so they don't think it's a cyst.  Anyone else have a similar finding?

Best wishes to all,


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Jan 24, 2009 08:09AM - edited Jan 24, 2009 08:44AM by leaf

Can is a big word. Can means not only might there ever have been 1 case that has grown this fast, but can there THEORETICALLY be a breast cancer that grows at rate X.  Remember, theoretically, all the air on your side of the room can travel to the other side of the room, leaving you in a vacuum.  This is possible, but HIGHLY unlikely.

Fibroadenomas (which are benign) can grow rapidly too.  Growth is not a good measure to find out if something is benign or malignant.

But to answer your question, they tried to measure tumors mammographically in this study.

Introduction Knowledge of tumor growth is important in the
planning and evaluation of screening programs, clinical trials,
and epidemiological studies. Studies of tumor growth rates in
humans are usually based on small and selected samples. In the
present study based on the Norwegian Breast Cancer
Screening Program, tumor growth was estimated from a large
population using a new estimating procedure/model.
Methods A likelihood-based estimating procedure was used,
where both tumor growth and the screen test sensitivity were
modeled as continuously increasing functions of tumor size. The
method was applied to cancer incidence and tumor
measurement data from 395,188 women aged 50 to 69 years.
Results Tumor growth varied considerably between subjects,
with 5% of tumors taking less than 1.2 months to grow from 10
mm to 20 mm in diameter, and another 5% taking more than 6.3
years. The mean time a tumor needed to grow from 10 mm to 20
mm in diameter was estimated as 1.7 years, increasing with age.
The screen test sensitivity was estimated to increase sharply
with tumor size, rising from 26% at 5 mm to 91% at 10 mm.
Compared with previously used Markov models for tumor
progression, the applied model gave considerably higher model
fit (85% increased predictive power) and provided estimates
directly linked to tumor size.
Conclusion Screening data with tumor measurements can
provide population-based estimates of tumor growth and screen
test sensitivity directly linked to tumor size. There is a large
variation in breast cancer tumor growth, with faster growth
among younger women.www.medisin.ntnu.no/ism/nofe/Konferanse_2008/arets_artikkel_2008.pdf

Fibroadenomas can grow quickly too. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14519878

Imaging is not 100% reliable.  There are people who have had negative mammos, found a lump, and positive mammos within a few weeks.  That does NOT mean that the tumor grew from nothing to a detectable tumor in 1 month.  

The usual figures you see about lumps is that most breast cancers (this does not mean ALL breast cancers) are thought to be in the body for some 6-10 years before they can be detected by ANY means.

Classic LCIS.If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them- Isaac Asimov Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, ER+/PR- Surgery 1/24/2006 Lumpectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 7/15/2006 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jan 24, 2009 10:47AM Rosekittyhawk wrote:

Thanks Leaf for the quick reply!!

What they found on the mammogram/ultrasound is a 1 cm dense lump, Birads 4.  On the mammogram you can see it is shaped kind of like the state of NC turned on it's side. I suppose the lump is in the middle, I can't see the lump on the mammogram. Guess it was probably there last April but at that time all I had was a screening not a diagnostic mammogram.  It was even checked in April by a CAD program.  Well, they found it this time, that's a good thing.


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Jan 24, 2009 01:55PM - edited Jan 24, 2009 01:56PM by leaf

I know this period of waiting and uncertainty are awful - you don't know what you will be dealing with.  Many of us tend to go to the worst case scenario so that we won't be surprised by anything.

But the big picture is not like that.  Breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence.

Mammogram is the best initial screening that we have right now.  From the study above, it looks like it usually picks up tumors as small as 5-10mm.  But mammograms are certainly not perfect.   For example, in this study, mammograms detected about 80% of ILCs. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19155397

Different studies will differ.  Younger women tend to have more dense breasts, which make it harder to read mammograms, and the density is probably associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.

Hang in there.  You will soon have more answers.  Feel free to ask questions or vent.

Classic LCIS.If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them- Isaac Asimov Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, ER+/PR- Surgery 1/24/2006 Lumpectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 7/15/2006 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jan 24, 2009 05:35PM scrappy_survivor wrote:

Mine grew 2 cms in 6 weeks.

October 23, 2008 DX IDC November 12, 2008 bilateral mastectomy Stage ll, grade 3, SNB 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- (triple negative) 6 rounds FEC-D BRCA- October 8, 2009 Complete hysto With ooph & cervix removed as well
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Jan 24, 2009 06:52PM deemdee wrote:

Hi Rose.

Well I had a clean Mamm in 1/08, This year for annual visit found a 1.47 cm (1/2") stage 1, grade 2 cancer tumor.  I had biopsies. and waiting on MRI results. But I guess for those of us who are Triple Positive (ER 90% +++), (PR 90% +++), AND HER-2 (95% +++). It is considered very aggressive!!!. So these buggers can grow fast!!! Keep us posted of your reports. We are all here to support you!


Dx 1/16/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 25, 2009 06:05AM Rosekittyhawk wrote:

 Hi Denise, Leaf and momof4stars,

Thanks so much for the reply...I'm sitting here trying to think of something to say but my mind is completely blank....2/11 can't come fast enough.  I really didn't think they could grow that fast, I know cysts can.....  This is the first moment I believe this might really be BC.  I've been spending hours reading online feeling like more information and support from all you and my friends is the only control I have right now.  And that has been a big help.  You all are the best....I need another cup of coffee and maybe I should go outside and scream really loud.


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Jan 25, 2009 02:14PM momo3esb wrote:

But Rose, don't forget.......it could be B9!!!!!!!!  I have been waiting since I found my lump on 12/18 in the shower on the day of the funeral for a co-worker who had died of this disease to find out what the results will be for me.  I have my biopsy on Thursday (1/29) and see the surgeon again on 2/3.  I have been reading these posts since I found the lump (and this wonderful site) and have seen many wonderful women come and go with B9 results and some come and stay with the sad news.  I try to remind myself each and every day that I will not know what will become of my until after the report comes in ~ and until then I have not been diagnosed with anything!!!  At this point I am still B9!!!!  

Read and educate yourself to the fullest.....but don't scare yourself too much!!  You don't want to lose hope! There is soooooo much information to take in ~ different types of cancers, stages, etc, that I just want to be able to ask the right questions if I need to.  But I am still hopeful that all I will have to say is ~ Thank you so much!

You are all in my thoughts and prayers at all times!  Take care and please take care of yourselves!


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Mar 16, 2009 01:07AM jodyannie wrote:

I had a mammogram in June 08...all clear.  I found a lump myself in Jan 09.  Had breast cancer in 2004, triple negative, lumpectomy, and chemo.  This tumor in the opposite breast has the same pathology.  Still trying to decide which surgery is best...have two doctors giving me opposite opinions....one, another lumpectomy with radiation...the other a mastecomy.  It's been three weeks since my biopsy...don't want this to grow any bigger (It's 1.5 to 1.9 cm)...I'm really bummed to have to start down this road again.  The first tumor was er-;pr-;her2-.  no nodes, stage 1.  I never thought I'd have to go through this again.  Now, I'm worried that I'm not making a decision fast enough and it could grow quickly.   Anyone with thoughts...I'd be glad to hear.  Thanks!

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