Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sherrie's initial diagnosis

Sherrie had a clear mammogram in December of 2007, roughly one year ago. Last week, she had another annual appointment with her nurse practitioner, and a mammogram in conjunction with that appointment. The hospital and the NP called on Tuesday to say that the mammogram gave them cause for concern, and that she needed another mammogram and ultrasound exam.

We went to the hospital on Wednesday morning for the exams. I sat in with Sherrie for the ultrasound and the tumor/mass was clear even to an uninitiated person like me. The technician measured the tumor in various directions, and also performed what I believe are Doppler measurements to look for blood flow in the affected region. The tumor is shaped sort of like a chocolate M&M: flat and round. In its largest extent, it is about 1 inch in diameter. The tumor's edges were not well defined, but sort of disappeared gradually into the surrounding areas.

Of possible concern is that the mammogram also showed, and the ultrasound confirmed, the presence of another small mass in the other breast. This mass was much more well defined and much smaller.

After the exams, we met with the radiologist. He expressed to us that he wished he knew us better, because he doesn't like to give bad news to people he doesn't know. He then stated that he was "high 90s percent confident" that the tumor was malignant. His official report calls it "invasive adenocarcinoma."

I asked the radiologist about the mass in the right breast and whether he felt that indicated that the cancer had spread. He stated that the two are probably not related, and that the mass in the right breast is probably not cancerous, but should be biopsied just to be sure. We were grateful that the radiologist consented to talk with us. At this point in time, the uncertainty associated with all of this is the most difficult thing to bear.

Our next appointment is Tuesday with the surgeon. we do not know if that is only an exam, or if the biopsy will be performed then or scheduled for later.

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