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Just Diagnosed with Cancer? Chat with Experts

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 Jmonster, Community Member, asks

Q: What is type 3 breast cancer?

Yesterday, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, type 3 and it has spread to a lymphnode.  There was no evidence seen on last year's mammogram. 


The Dr. seemed to avoid further definition of "type 3" other than to confirm my question as to whether this was a particularly aggressive form of cancer.


Now, considering the lympnode involvement, we are really, REALLY scared.


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Answers (2)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
9/23/09 5:35am

Hi - Take a deeeeeep breath, and realize that cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be. There are millions of us out here having survived cancer, and gone on to lead healthy lives. I'm sorry I can't answer your question without some clarification. "Type 3" isn't anything I've heard of. Did you mean stage III, perhaps? Cancer type would be something like "invasive ductal carcinoma" (IDC) - was it that, maybe? If you can get a copy of her pathology report, our Guide to Understanding Your Pathology Report will lead you through its wealth of information.


I understand your fear (and remember my own fear very well). But you'll get past this paralyzing fear as you move together into your wife's treatment. Cancer that's spread to the lymph nodes is more serious than that which hasn't, but again, so many of us have been through this, been treated successfully, and are now fine... I hope you have access to a good hospital or cancer center, and that things go well. Please stay in touch here - we can help. PJH



Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
9/23/09 6:10am

Cancer is always scary, and knowing that it has already spread to a lymph node makes it scarier still.  Her doctor may have hesitated into going into too many details because he knows that right after they get that initial diagnosis, patients are in too much shock to absorb information.  For the next appointment, take a notebook with all your questions listed and take notes about the answers.  Don't be afraid to ask the doctor to spell out unfamiliar words so that you can look them up later.  As the cosurvivor in this situation, your role should be to empower your wife to do most of the talking and asking while you fill in with follow up questions.  

You'll want to clarify what Type 3 is.  Maybe he meant Stage III, but it might have been a 3 in some other part of the path report.

I'm an 11 year survivor of a Stage IIIB breast cancer who had 16 positive lymph nodes, so it is not unrealistic for you and your wife to have hope that with treatment she'll be just fine.

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By Jmonster, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/26/10, First Published: 09/23/09