How long chemo works for, fat lumps and how fast invasive lobular BC grows


I have had a mastectomy in March for invasive lobular breast cancer  ( which could not be felt and no visual signs )  and FEC-T chemo therapy finished at the end of August, I have just had lymph node clearance and would like to know how long chemo works for as I have found yet another lump in my remaining breast,  the first lumps I had a ultra sound scan for  and was told the lumps are cysts and nothing to worry about, but this  lump which feels very large and is painful the doctor has said the chemo would have killed anything  that was cancerous, not to worry  and that a scan was not required as the doctor said it is a 'fat lump',   until the last couple of months I had never had lumps in my breasts.  I would like to know how long the chemo works for  so if I have more lumps I know  if  I should be having an ultra sound?  Are fat lumps normal?  Do you have any idea how fast invasive lobular cancer grows ? 

  • Hello one boob,

    Thanks for getting in touch with us.

    It’s understandable to worried about any new lump, especially having a previous breast cancer diagnosis. This understandably will only add to your anxiety.

    Chemotherapy works by killing fast dividing cells. Even although you have finished your treatment at the end of August the effects can continue for many months after it has finished.

    Your chemotherapy would have been given as an adjuvant treatment (additional treatment after surgery) to decrease the chances of your cancer coming back in the future. It’s aimed at targeting potential microscopic cells that may be present elsewhere in the body. These are cells that cannot be felt or seen on any scan because they are so tiny.

    Invasive lobular cancer tends to be oestrogen dependant, so I’m assuming that you’re also now taking a hormone tablet. This too is a systemic treatment that helps to prevent breast cancers from growing.

    Invasive lobular cancer also tends to be a grade 2 cancer which means that it’s not the most aggressive type. However, it’s difficult to say how long a Lobular cancer can take to grow. Most breast cancers can take many months and sometimes years before they reach a size that you’re able to feel. But, as you know, it can often not be seen on a mammogram or felt as a lump.

    Although it’s not common that a new breast cancer would develop so soon after your chemotherapy, and whilst you’re taking a hormone treatment, it’s not impossible. That’s why it’s important that any new lump is checked out.

    We would suggest that you talk to your breast care nurse about this new finding and ask to see your breast surgeon again so that it can be reviewed. They may decide that it is a fatty lump by how it feels and that no further tests are required. But getting someone else to look at it for you will give you further reassurance and peace of mind.

    Best wishes and take care.

    Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.

    Ellen-Macmillan Cancer Information Nurse 
  • Hello Ellen,

    Thank you for your reply,  yes the invasive lobular cancer was ER positive and grade 2 B  being multifocal   ( which I guess it has several centres  ) and in the lymph nodes.  I have not started hormone treatment as the oncologist wants blood and DEXA scan results first, as I have oesteopaenia  and was on HRT for 22 years following surgical removal of ovaries,  unfortunately the DEXA  referal was not done when I last saw the oncologist so has only just been done,  I expect to  have the DEXA in about two weeks time and see the oncologist late November.   I am seeing the breast nurse on Friday to hopefully remove the drain and do the dressing so I will ask about the ? fat lump then.

    Thank you the information you provide is reassuring.