Waiting. You do a lot of it when you have breast cancer. Anytime you’re at the doctor’s office, or in a hospital, guaranteed you’re going to spend some time sitting in a chair with some very well-worn magazines, waiting your turn to get blood drawn, have radiation, see your oncologist.
That’s one kind of waiting. The ho-hum, big yawn, wonder what I should make for dinner tonight waiting. But there’s another kind of waiting, and it’s much more stressful: waiting for test results.
We’ve all been there, right? Starting with the biopsy. Benign, or malignant?
Waiting to hear if breast cancer has spread to your lymph nodes is one of the really key stress-builders we go through. Was the cancer contained? You can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with your radiation. But if cancer has left your breast and started to move around your body, uh oh… That usually means chemo. And bumping you up to at least stage II, often higher. It means your chance of recurrence has suddenly taken a giant step in the wrong direction. And emotionally, it rips that security blanket right out of your hands: “I’m sure they got it all.” Or… not.
The wait to hear if cancer has spread to your lymph nodes has traditionally been at least several days, often longer. Try as you might to just go about your normal routine, that little voice in your head never stops. “What if it’s spread? What’ll I have to do? Will I worry the rest of my life about it coming back?” It’s nerve-wracking, to say the least. But a recent advance in lymph node testing may just shorten that wait time considerably.
Now, there’s a test with a much quicker turnaround time. Approved by the FDA on July 16, the GeneSearch BLN Assay detects cancer in lymph nodes on a molecular (rather than cellular) level; and it does it within 35 to 40 minutes, while you’re still on the operating table. If cancer is detected, the surgeon can remove more lymph nodes immediately, rather than wait for results and then possibly have to schedule another surgery days later. And, just as important, you can get the news–good or bad–before you even leave the hospital. No waiting for the pathologist’s report; much less time wondering “what if?” And that’s a good thing.
Published On: September 05, 2007