Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dr. Cutter Follow-up

We saw the breast surgeon, Dr. Cutter, yesterday. The purpose of the meeting was a check-up and to plan the left breast (LB) mastectomy. The big news is that the LB mastectomy will likely be the week of September 18.

We asked Dr. Cutter to explain why the LB mastectomy was needed. It hadn’t registered with us that the biopsy sample taken was almost 8x6x3 centimeters—-huge for a biopsy sample. The invasive lobular carcinoma in that sample was only 2 millimeters and excised with clear margins.

However, when the full sample was dissected onto 10 slides, 7 of the slides showed ductal carcinoma in situ nearly all the way up to all of the edges of the sample. There also was lobular carcinoma in situ present. Therefore, the educated guess is that such “peppering” of in situ cancer was throughout the breast, perhaps even past the area that would be excised in a mastectomy. (In situ cancer is basically a precancerous condition; in situ cancer is not know to metasticize.)

Dr. Cutter warned us that the in situ cancer may not show in a pronounced way in the pathology on the mastectomy tissue because Venita has been through chemo, which will have shrunk the cancerous tissue. We are aware of that, and do not plan to play the “we didn’t need a mastectomy” second-guessing game after the pathology is back. Because of the chemo, Dr. Cutter also expects no sentinel node involvement.

We also asked for the staging group on Venita’s right breast cancer. We hadn’t really been prepared for this information before. It is Stage IIIA. According to some statistics, the relative 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed from 1995 to 1998 with that stage was 67%. That means that that 33% of the women diagnosed with Stage IIIA breast cancer during that 4-year period died from their breast cancer within 5 years of diagnosis. (Yes, this scares us.)

Breast cancer treatment has improved, so Venita’s odds are better than this average. Venita is undergoing aggressive treatment, so her odds are better than this average. Venita has an aggressive form of breast cancer, so her odds are worse than this average. Overall, we think her odds are better than this average, probably around 75%.

Information about staging breast cancer and survival rates are here.

5 comments:

julie said...

hi sweetie..just catching up..I have been out of the loop for the past week...stay strong my friend..you are going to beat this thing! as always I am sending my continued thoughts of support and keeping you in my prayers!
Love,
Julie

julie said...

hi sweetie..just catching up..I have been out of the loop for the past week...stay strong my friend..you are going to beat this thing! as always I am sending my continued thoughts of support and keeping you in my prayers!
Love,
Julie

pam said...

Hi Venita - thought you'd like to know that Herb Maguire mentioned your absence at the local government conference q&a session -his remarks were very heartfelt - several people were asking about you. Just wanted you to know how much you are though of - hang in there. And remember - I live close - please let me know if there's anything I can do
Pam

Alice said...

V,
If there was ever a person who could beat the odds that person would be you. I would rather see a 100% rate but know you will make it through just fine. I am making a pap smear and mamogram apt. today. Sending hugs and healing thoughts your way.
Love Alice

Martha and Alley Cat said...

Intention is everything... plan on being well soon, see it, feel it, make it happen! Visualize your well being and healthy body. Intention is everything! We are seeing you well.

m & alley cat