Cancer diagnosis before biopsies


I was hoping you might be able to give some advice and guidance. My nearly 83 year old Mum was told by her GP on the 14 June that she has stage 4 cancer. This was after the results of a bone scan Mum had on the 8th June as the GP thought Mum had Padgetts disease of the bone.

As a separate issue Mum found a lump in her left breast about 6 weeks ago & eventually went to the doctors to be checked out (I had breast cancer myself 11 years ago at 40 & had the full works treatment/operation-wise). An appointment for our local Breast Care centre arrived for 21st June. 

The GP told Mum it is likely the breast is the primary site which has Metastasised to the bones inc her head and possibly elsewhere. 

I took Mum to Breast Care appointment last week and  went in with her so I could take notes. The consultant took all the usual details & my history of breast cancer, checked the lump and asked us to stay for mammograms and biopsies. We told her about the bone scan and luckily she was able to view the findings on the computer. It was a long day and Mum was very upset. The consultant has ordered a CT scan too.

We have a follow up appointment on the 5th July for the biopsy results but the Consultant already said the mammogram showed the lymph’s were cancerous. 

I know we have to wait for the biopsy results and CT scan but Mum is so frightened and swings between understanding how bad things are and then thinking it might be ok. Also Mum’s hearing has deteriorated very fast over the last few months and her vision is now seeming to deteriorate too. I want to be able to reassure her and help but there is nothing I can do. Im so worried that she won’t get treated properly because of her age and we will be left floundering around for help and treatment. 

Thank you for reading this xx

  • Hello Chickbean,

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    It’s understandable to be worried about age affecting the treatment that your mum might be offered but we’d never like to think that someone could be left floundering around for help and treatment.

    Cancer treatment can be more challenging and complicated for older adults. This is because older adults are more likely to have chronic health conditions, and side effects of treatment can be more difficult to manage. However, decisions about treatment should not be based on your mum’s age alone.

    Although your mum has been given some results already, biopsy results often give the doctors more specific information which can help them to make decisions about treatment. Usually, once they have all the results they need, a group of healthcare professionals (MDT) will meet to discuss treatment. After the MDT meeting, your mum’s specialist should explain what has been recommended, and why.

    Waiting on results can be such an anxious time, and it’s not unusual to experience a range of emotions. It sounds as if you are a wonderful source of support and often just being there, or at the end of the phone, can really help at times like this. Preparing some questions to ask your mum’s team could help to, and it might be worth having a read over some suggestions we have made.

    We’d also recommend getting in touch with your mum’s hospital team or GP to let them know about the changes in her hearing and eyesight.

    If you’d like to talk things through a little more, please don’t hesitate to contact our nurses on the support line. We are always happy to take the time to talk over any worries or concerns you are having.

    Best wishes,

    Carole (Cancer Information Nurse Specialist)

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email.

    Our ref: CF/AKR