Mastectomy + lymph node cancerous cells

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Hi, I had a mastectomy last week with reconstruction from abdomen.  However they discovered,  during surgery ,that 2 out of the 5 lymph nodes removed have signs of cancer.

My surgeon mentioned radiotherapy possibly chemo, depending on all the results from the mastectomy etc. I have an appointment 15th July.

Wasn't expecting this, was hoping with the mastectomy the cancer would have been totally removed.

Does anyone know what I should expect next?  And how long til I recieve either treatment. I've been taking Letrozole for 10 weeks now.



  • Hi GillP

    Sorry to hear that they discovered cancer in two of the lymph nodes that they took.

    You will probably have chemo as well as radiotherapy. If you are having chemo you will probably have it about six weeks after your operation to give you time to recover from the operation. You will then have radiotherapy about five weeks after you finish chemo. You will have either 5 or 20 sessions of radiotherapy. You will have an appointment about 2 to 3 weeks before you start radiotherapy for a CT Scan to measure you for radiotherapy. You will be marked with about 3 small tattoos so that they know how to line you up on the bed of the radiotherapy machine.

    Wishing you the best of luck with whatever happens next for you.

    Best wishes


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  • Hi

    I have cancer in 1 or 4 nodes they took

    unexpected as nothing on scan

     sadly I don’t think this is that abnormal. 

    my surgeon explained that this means the cancer shows signs of being able to move so they need to do something more systematic than just radiotherapy. Thus the hormone treatment and maybe chemotherapy. I think the oncotype test which they sometimes do can tell them if chemotherapy is justified?? But I think that’s dependent on cancer type/ and nodes. Not sure what type you have. 

    the chemo things comes as a BIG shock there’s no getting around that. For me it was as bad as being told I had cancer. But take heart from so many of the fabulous women on here who have gotten through it in style.

    one thing my surgeon reassured me about yesterday which might help is that it’s stopped at node 2. So they know the visible extent of it. And have got it out. Now you are fighting the bits so small they can’t be seen. But you’d rather just know you’d mopped them all up right?? 

    good luck and be very kind on yourself and try to do anything to distract yourself from the worm holes your mind will take you to……

  • Sorry that should read “1 OF 4”

  • Thankyou so much, very helpful. I have an appointment with my surgeon next week who will hopefully have all the info she needs to set a plan for me. I'm hoping that 2 out of 5 will be same as your outcome and the worst is already out. I have ER+ invasive lobular cancer.

  • Hi. I had lobular not found on any tests so complete shock when my surgeon told me after my op.Also ductal the original one that was there. After my mastectomy the lumps were sent for oncotype . After 6 weeks of waiting no chemo. 

    Hope this helps. X

  • Yes I gave lobular too. Notoriously hard to see on scan which is why we need something systematic to nuke anything that’s there but not seen I guess. 
    hormone receptive tumours as ILC usually are are “good” in the sense that they allow you to use hormone therapy as a tool to Nuke your whole body and don’t always - but do sometimes - require chemotherapy

    I think anything 1-3 nodes is in the maybe category for chemotherapy in ilc - subject to your menopausal status and the octotype score 

    thats my understanding anyway

  • That's great news. Thanks for the reply.

  • Clareabelle great news on no chemo

    6 week wait though! Yikes!