User logged in as post
I was told that w/ stage 3, they wanted to do chemo first to kill any malignant cells that may have spread in order to halt any of those cells from getting together to form another tumor elsewhere in the body. Sometimes that decision depends on the common practice of the cancer facility. I had a PET scan before surgery, and the axilla/nodes lit up. When I asked them what that meant, they said they knew there was lymph node involvement so there would definitely be surgery there, but they wouldn't know how many lymph nodes were involved until they actually scooped them out during the surgery and biopsied them. It turned out I had only 1 node involved (and the chemo had killed that one). I wish they had done a sentinel node biopsy instead. That way they would have removed only 3 nodes instead of the 26 or whatever they removed, which put me at high risk for both lymphedema and axillary web syndrome, both of which I got (then had to go to PT because I lost range of motion in my arm from the aws and still have a slightly swollen arm from the lympedema). Two months after I was operated on, a large study came out concluding that doing a sentinel biopsy was preferable to doing a full axillary dissection for exactly the reasons I mentioned. I know it was the gold standard at the time, but I wish I had questioned it then. I was so good about being a proactive advocate in my treatment except for that one point, and it cost me. Good lesson there for anybody going through treatment now: Make sure what the MDs are proposing makes sense to you. Sorry, just had to vent. Thanks for listening.
« Back to index