Saturday, September 12, 2009

What color is your tumor?

If someone had asked a year ago, what color the inside of a tumor was, I would have guessed red and gray. When they did the biopsy, I asked to see the tissue specimens: 5 quarter to half inch strings of vermicelli (Italian for little worms)with little streakings of blood. They didn't look evil to me, just strings of fat. The entire mass was white inside as the pathology reported stated. I had read somewhere that capillary density was roughly proportional to VEGF, a protein that causes the tumor to obtain a blood supply so it can grow (Avastin targets this). The more VEGF ones tumor has, the worse the outcome. I had asked the surgeon later if removal of the tumor was especially bloody (meaning that the tumor managed to conscript lots of blood vessels feeding it) and she said no more than 'usual'. I grasp at any straws that might indicate an increased chance of survival.

VEGF is not the only angiogenesis factor. One can block it and slow the tumor's growth down but eventually it figures out other ways to get a blood supply.

The blood vessels that feed a tumor also can carry tumor cells to other parts of the body. In general, for a given tumor size, TNBC is less likely to be found in the nodes that hormone positive BC. No sigh of relief there though as it is more likely to spread in the blood stream.

Yesterday at the support group someone asked what kind of tumor I had: invasive intraductal carcinoma. Yeah but what kind? That is what kind, the kind that 70% of BC patients have. She had a rare type: papillary which generally has a good prognosis but it had mixed cell types and they were unable to ascertain what those mixed cells were until they could grow and possibly do her damage. Thus she was not a happy camper.

I was sad yesterday between the bad news in the mail and the feeling that maybe I am not out of Cancerland.

7 comments:

Sara Williams said...

Sue, I have been reading your blog for a while and I hope you dont mind me speaking candidly to you, as a friend. I think that you are focusing too much on the "what ifs" and worrying too much about dark things. Your cancer has gone. You have been given the opportunity to be "re-born" to caste off the way you were BC and what you can be.

My advice to you is to stop focusing on the what ifs and cancer and embrace life. Move on.

I say this as a friend.

krisa said...

I just wrote on Susan Love's Facebook page. She is working on another edition of her breast book and was asking her Facebook friends to chime in on what her readers should know about living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
I wrote about the fear of recurrence, it is real and I have no idea when it fades. I am a year out from treatment.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Hi Sara and Krisa

I don't think about it all the time and I try to embrace life as much as possible but reality sometimes creeps in. This is a disease in general that kills 2 out of every 7 women who get it and some of us have worse odds than that. As for when it fades, for me once I've reached 3 years I'll breathe easier but I do think about it less and less. I am a year out from diagnosis and 5 months out from finishing treatment.

Anonymous said...

Firstly I would like to say I am sorry for your struggle with cancer. I found your comment on the statistics of cancer jumped out at me. Isn't it funny how humans will say 2 out of 7 people are likely to get cancer. Yet we never say that 5 out of 7 are not likely to get it. There fore the odds are still pretty good for many. Unfortunately your were initially one of the unlucky ones. I hope you continue to recover and please remember the statistics don't really mean all that much, this is about YOU. Even if only 1 in 5 people live out their lives cancer free. You could be that ONE. I wish you the very best. May you have good health and many years of happiness.

Anonymous said...

Strongly suggest you read "The China Study" by Dr. Colin Campbel. You may also want to read "How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. And, watch video "Forks Over Knives".

Anonymous said...

Have you ever researched the direct relation of cancer to Candida albicans (fungus)?

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Dear Readers who found this blog from the link about treating fungal infections with baking soda. First of all, YEASTS DO NOT CAUSE CANCER. The fact that many cancer patients have fungal infections is due to their immune systems being shut down by treatment. Second of all, yeasts do not like acidic environments. The body usually produces enough acid to keep them in check such as the lactobacilli found in one's vagina. Baking soda is a weak base and would provide even a friendlier environment for yeasts. My blog was about my surprise that the tumor was white. I never said that it was a mass of yeasts.

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