The Makeup of My Cancer

My body was trying to eat me alive! Before surgery, I was injected with a green radioactive dye to help the surgeon locate the tumor, thus the ugly green color. 
I went in for my post-op today and I got the pathology of my cancer.

My Type and Stage of Cancer
I have stage I, invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). What does that mean? According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, invasive ductal carcinoma are abnormal cancer cells that began forming in the milk ducts and have spread beyond the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. Invasive cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. IDC is the most common type of breast cancer, making up nearly 70-80 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.  

In Stage I breast cancer, cancer is evident, but it is contained to only the area where the first abnormal cells began to develop. The breast cancer has been detected in the early stages and can be very effectively treated.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
While in surgery, the doctor also did sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). The biopsy is a procedure in which the sentinel lymph node is identified, removed, and examined to determine whether cancer cells are present. A negative SLNB result suggests that cancer has not developed the ability to spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. A positive SLNB result indicates that cancer is present in the sentinel lymph node and may be present in other nearby lymph nodes and, possibly, other organs.

My SLNB came back negative–meaning that the cancer has not spread to other parts of my body and is contained in my little tumor!

Grade of Breast Cancer
The grade of a breast cancer is representative of the “aggressive potential” of the tumor; in a broad generalization, “low grade” cancers tend to be less aggressive than “high grade” cancers. There are three grades of cancer. Determining the grade is very important, and the clinicians use this information to help guide the treatment options for patients. In this scoring system, there are three factors that the pathologists take into consideration:

  1. the amount of gland formation (“differentiation” or how well the tumor cells try to recreate normal glands)
  2. the nuclear features (“pleomorphism” or how “ugly” the tumor cells look)
  3. the mitotic activity (how much the tumor cells are dividing)

I was diagnosed with a grade 2 tumor.

My tubular score was a 2–10% to 75% of my tumor area was forming glandular/tubular structures.

My nuclear score was a 2–My cells are larger than normal with open vesicular nuclei, visible nucleoli, and moderate variability in both size and shape.

My mitosis score was a 2–8-14 mitoses per 10 high power fields.

What does this all mean? My cancer cells do not look like normal cells and are growing and dividing a little faster than normal.

Size of My Tumor
My tumor is small–14x13mm. To give you a better understanding, there are 25.4mm in 1 inch. When I first met with the doctors, they were surprised that I even felt the tumor–that’s how small it was.

It was located in my left upper-inner quadrant, which is very close to my clavicle.