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Breast cancer, all lymph nodes removed why?

(30 Posts)
FrameyMcFrame Tue 12-Jul-11 22:15:06

My Mum has a 19mm tumor and is having that removed tomorrow plus all of the auxiliary lymph nodes in her armpit.

I've been trying to read about it and it seems they usually only take a few of them out not all? She had a biopsy of the lymph nodes last week.

I can't ask the consultant too many questions as I don't want to upset my Mum. But do they really need to take all of them out? seems extreme.

Does this mean it's bad news? I'm having trouble understanding.

MaryAnnSingleton Tue 12-Jul-11 22:22:34

hello - lots of good thoughts to your mum for tomorrow. I'm guessing that the biopsy showed spread into the lymph nodes tested last week and because you can't be sure of how many more are infected (or indeed how many lymph nodes a person has - some have just a few apparently) they will do a clearance. So,it is something that is done and doesn't necessarily mean it's very bad news. If you'd like any hand holding do pop to the tamoxifen thread - i's very supportive anmd everyone has experience of surgery and/or treatment for bc.

FrameyMcFrame Tue 12-Jul-11 22:43:24

Thanks for your reply, that makes more sense now. Do you know when she will be able to drive again? She hates not driving and having her freedom taken away!

suzikettles Tue 12-Jul-11 22:50:35

My mum had all her lymph nodes taken when she had her mastectomy 3 years ago (gosh, is it really three years?).

Anyway, yes she can drive and basically do anything she could do before - her arm is slightly weaker but not especially.

She was unlucky to develop lymphoedema in that arm a few months ago - there's about at 25% risk I think if you have the nodes removed. If you're very careful about cuts/avoiding any infections you can reduce the risk. Treatment has been pretty successful though and it's not causing her any trouble.

I believe there is some debate at the moment as to whether it's strictly necessary to do a lymph node clearance when micro metastases have been found in the nodes (ie whether it improves survival), but I know if it were me I'd want them gone.

Good luck to your mum. My mum found the process/recovery a lot less challenging than she was expecting although chemo etc was gruelling - she got through it and you really would not know now. We are so glad to have her with us and so well.

suzikettles Tue 12-Jul-11 22:52:27

Btw, my mum was certainly driving (when well enough) while she was having chemo, so I think maybe about 6 weeks after the op? That's a guess though.

FrameyMcFrame Tue 12-Jul-11 22:55:37

Thanks, oh she was hoping to be driving again after a week, will that not happen? I don't know what to expect thanks for your reply. My Mum is 78 although most people think she's in her 60s as she's very fit and has never had any health problems.

suzikettles Tue 12-Jul-11 23:00:39

To be honest, I really can't remember. She had a drain in for a wee while when she got home. Maybe she'd have been able to drive when that was removed?

I suspect my dad did most of the driving for a good while. He felt pretty helpless so really anything he could do for her he did.

I hope your mum makes a good recovery.

FrameyMcFrame Tue 12-Jul-11 23:02:41

Thanks! Fingers crossed for her. I feel helpless too, lost my Dad 10 years ago so it's just me and my sister.

MaryAnnSingleton Wed 13-Jul-11 07:34:37

I only had a couple of lymph nodes removed - to be honest that wound (tiny like a sliver of new moon) was much more uncomfortable than the scar on my breast because the underarm gets quite swollen and obviously rubs and if there is full clearance then she will probably have drains for a bit . It's v important to do the exercises post surgery so that she'll be able to use that arm properly - I think I drove after a couple of weeks,but couldn't lift heavy things for bit . The underarm area is a bit numb afterwards as the nerves are cut and as suzikettles says,she must avoid cuts/injections,blood pressure on the bad arm to prevent lymphoedema. Anyway, thinking of her today smile

FrameyMcFrame Wed 13-Jul-11 11:43:10

Thanks MaryAnne, she's gone into surgery now so I'm just waiting and hoping they know what they're doing! She was in good spirits this morning, joking with the nurses.
Thanks for talking to me, it really helps.

MaryAnnSingleton Wed 13-Jul-11 14:33:52

am sure she'll be taken very good care of-the NHS breast care is truly wonderful in my experience.

MaryAnnSingleton Wed 13-Jul-11 14:43:57

link to tamoxifen thread if you feel like dropping in smile

smee Wed 13-Jul-11 14:55:13

Framey, I think MAS's guess is spot on. The biopsy probably did show spread to her nodes. I had all mine removed for that reason at same time as mastectomy. Don't despair though, as I'm very much still here. I can't remember what the position is on driving, but I'd bet she'll be sore for a couple of weeks, so probably not feel like it anyway. Come over to Tamoxifen and ask us anything if it helps. I'll keep my fingers crossed for her. smile

FrameyMcFrame Wed 13-Jul-11 17:28:17

Thanks Smee and MaryAnn, she's out now and has been sitting up in bed and drinking tea and chatting. She actually looks better than she did this morning before the op! Think she's pretty high on painkillers though as she said she can't feel anything yet. I'll be going back again tonight to see her. Now the big worry is what they've found in the lymph nodes and from what I understand they'll stage the disease from there and will be able to tell if metastasis has occurred. (you can see I've been doing my research here!)
Are there any important questions I should be asking if I get see a consultant today?Haven't seen any doctors all day today and been there since 7.30.

KurriKurri Wed 13-Jul-11 18:07:02

Framey I had mastectomy and lymph node removal 3 years ago. If there's any spread to the lymph nodes they usually remove the whole lot.

I don't know if your mum's been given any kind of treatment plan yet, but usually if lymph nodes are involved you have chemo and radiotherapy. They will also most likely do a bone scan and a CT scan to see if there has been metastasis. So she'll probably have those in the next few weeks.

I'm glad her op, went well, and wish her the very best for her treatment and recovery. And as MAS and Smee said - do pop over to Tamoxifen thread if you've got any questions or just want a chat. (And of course if your mum is a computer person she'd be very welcome too smile)

MaryAnnSingleton Wed 13-Jul-11 18:08:21

am not sure they'll be able to tell you much yet,until pathology is done. Am glad she is through the op ok and looking well- I had orange jelly and a sandwich which was heavenly after starving ! Well done for getting through this too- it's very hard for family I think.

MaryAnnSingleton Fri 15-Jul-11 08:27:54

hello Framey - just checking in to see how your mum is doing,and you ! hope all is ok and that she's not feeling too sore.

smee Fri 15-Jul-11 12:00:24

Me too Framey. Hope she's still feeling not too bad and out of hospital soon.

FrameyMcFrame Sat 16-Jul-11 21:34:25

Hi, thanks for messages! Mum got discharged yesterday with the drains still in and she's feeling remarkably ok. The drains fell out in the night last night but the district nurses said it didn't matter and the amount of lymphatic fluid was reasonable to have it taken out anyway. Just got home from there now and she survived the onslaught of my 2 noisy kids running around the house and jumping on her smile

Thanks again for your support over the last week smile smile

I know this is just the start of her treatment now but I'm glad she's got through this bit ok.

MaryAnnSingleton Sat 16-Jul-11 21:56:51

aw,am glad she's home - sounds as though she's doing well

smee Mon 18-Jul-11 11:27:22

Sounds like she's doing really well Framey. smile

sandripples Mon 18-Jul-11 21:40:36

Framey - well done your mum! Just popping in to say I had all nodes from under one arm removed last year - I did find I had quite a lot of pain down the upper arm for longer than most people seem to get (about 6 weeks). This got me down rather but then it suddenyl improved dramatically.

So if your mum finds she has pain do tell her to keep taking the pain-killers and that it wil improve. I'm fine now byu the way. Good luck.

FrameyMcFrame Thu 21-Jul-11 07:33:00

Just got a phone call last night and the hospital has brought my Mum's appointment with the consultant forward to today. It was meant to be next Thursday. What does that mean? I'm worrying that it means things are bad. Been up early feeling sick about it (my kids have sick bug too which doesn't help)
Taking the day off work to drive her to the hospital, the appointment is at 9.30.

Just hope I can hold it all together and be useful and not crap if it's bad news.
I hope it's good news.

My Mum is still recovering well, she's been out driving (!!!) just a week post op, even though she's been told not to drive for 4 weeks...
She's also been digging up potatoes on her allotment.
Thanks Sandripples for your message, very encouraging.
I'll pop back later, to update.

MaryAnnSingleton Thu 21-Jul-11 07:37:00

try not to fret Framey- it might just be that there was a free appointment for her,plus the results usually don't take long after surgery,so they might've got them and found a slot for her. Let us know how it goes and whatever the news am sure you'll cope just fine - keep strong and we're thinking of you both.

FrameyMcFrame Thu 21-Jul-11 07:44:46

Thanks for your support MaryAnn smile

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