• Lymph nodes and blood

    Asked by Sparkplug on Saturday, February 9, 2019

    Lymph nodes and blood

    If doctors found cancer in lymph nodes and blood vessels, does that mean the cancer has metastasized?

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • carm's Avatar

      That depends on which lymph nodes? If they are close to the breast that could be a stage II or stage III (locally advanced) . If further than the breast like lymph nodes surrounding organs in the pelvis or abdomen then this is metastatic disease; stage IV. I hope this helps.

      about 1 year ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      Once the cells have developed the ability to leave the tumor, metastasis has begun. Even if a lumpectomy or mastectomy was performed, some form of systemic therapy is appropriate to mop up any stray cells. If you are anxious about undergoing systemic therapy (i.e. chemotherapy or biologic drugs), the situation must now be placed in perspective. What will the cancer do if not stopped or greatly slowed?

      On a personal level, I am now on my 20th systemic drug - most of them pure chemotherapy. I'm still alive and delighted to be anywhere at all. There are new generation non-chemo drugs that are used to treat metastatic breast cancer. They are not chemotherapy, but biologic, targeted drugs. Chemotherapy is a flamethrower. Biologic drugs are more like lasers. Here is a link to some info regarding biologic drugs.


      about 1 year ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      @poguy18, with breast cancer, if one has cancer cells in the breast lymph node(s), one is not considered to have metastatic breast cancer (as carm said). Instead, the breast cancer is staged at either 2 or 3. As you said, chemo is recommended, as it often is with even stage 1, depending on other factors.

      about 1 year ago
    • Wrenae's Avatar

      My Non-Hodgkin's Follicular Lymphoma (NHFL), stage 3, diagnosed Nov 2011, is a blood cancer, it is incurable.

      My Oncologist told me it's not a matter of it will relapse, its a matter of when.

      Being a blood cancer, it's all over my body.

      Last chemo Jun 2015 (bendamustin - cousin of mustard gas - kills everything in it's path, and Rituxan - goes after the abnormal stuff ).

      It took two years for my oncologist to sparingly use the word remission. I call it hibernation, it's everywhere in my body, hiding out until it decides to raise it's ugly head.

      I expect my NHFL to come back for another visit, or morph into another type of cancer.

      My Oncologist told me when it relapes, depends on how long its been since my last chemo as to what chemo regimen will be used the second time around.

      If the cancer morphs into another cancer, all bets are off as to which chemo will be utilized... the game's afoot, I could relapse tomorrow, decades from now, or never, it's all in God's plan.

      My research indicates that stage 4 NHFL patients survived, some relapsed and survived, some did not relapse and are doing very well.

      NHFL is an indolent non-aggressive cancer that has a nasty habit of coming back for a visit like a bad relative.

      I have dead lymph nodes and a compromised immune system. Simple colds must be medicated with antibiotics for my body to fight it. Dead lymph nodes were not removed, body encapsulates them... I'm part zombie !

      Everyone is different, body chemistry is not always the same, some do well with chemo, others not so much, and others - extremely rough.

      Talk with doctors, support groups, and check out the 4th Angel Cancer Mentoring Program - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/cancer/patient-education/4th-angel-mentoring they connect cancer patients and care givers with those who've been there done that.

      Learn as much as possible, as bad as the cancer journey can be the more one knows, the easier it is to understand what is happening, why, and how self care and knowledge contributes to making the unfortunate experience a little less daunting.

      God Bless & Be With You !

      about 1 year ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar

      po18guy, the link you posted confirms that "targeted" (aka biologic) therapies are only for HER2+ breast cancers--and not necessarily only metastatic ones. (Your error is understandable, as "breast cancer" is not one single cancer but a constellation of different cellular types of cancer, with lots of permutations & combinations when it comes to sites of origin--e.g., lobes vs. ducts--receptors and aggressiveness).

      Breast cancer is not considered "metastatic" until evidence is found of spread of the same type of breast cancer to distant organs: most commonly--depending on type of breast cancer--bone, liver, brain, lungs. Tumors that have had cells migrate to lymph nodes have an increased chance to become metastatic, but until they show up in distant organs they are not yet metastatic. (Even Stage IIIA is sometimes called "early").

      about 1 year ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      Good to know. As with so many other cancers, sadly there are many varieties. I enjoy being right, but I learn when I am wrong. I will have to read up a bit. As I understood it, the normal way that cancer would metastasize is via blood or lymph - other than direct tissue invasion such as anaplastic thyroid cancer.

      about 1 year ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar

      That is correct: breast cancer spreads via either the lymph nodes or bloodstream. "Luminal A," the least aggressive subtype (Grade 1 or 2, low mitotic rate, estrogen/progesterone-receptor+ and HER2-), almost always recurs given enough time (often, decades) if the patient doesn't die first of other causes, because its micromets usually "seed" and lie dormant long before a tumor can be diagnosed, and evolve to be able to synthesize their own estrogen supply--"outwitting" years of estrogen-depleting therapy.

      Those micromets can be so subtle that "sentinel" lymph nodes can nonetheless test "clear" at biopsy performed during lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery.

      about 1 year ago

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