Asked by Marlene Jones
My 88 years old next door neighbor very recently had a 1.1 centimeter cancerous tumor removed from her left breast. The first row lymph nodes were removed. We were very happy that there were no cancer cells present. However, on our post-surgical visit we were told that she would have to have further surgery because she has satalite tumors. Why couldn't the surgeon remove the satalite tumors along with the primary tumor at the time of the surgery. In your opinion what is the best thing for her to do now. I will add that she had a cancerous tumor removed from the right breast 12 years ago and was told that she would have to further surgery because enough tissue was not removed. Can you please talk about satalite tumors so I can give her some information. Thanks a lot.
Marlene, satellite tumors are usually smaller tumors close to the primary tumor. So, I assume telling her she had satellite tumors is another way of saying the surgeon wasn't able to get clear margins the first time s/he operated; this is quite common with lumpectomy, and results in a second, third, or even fourth surgery, as any undiscovered tiny areas of cancer are gradually removed. Her choice at this point is to have another surgery where the surgeon removes the new tumors that were just identified; leaving the possibility of further surgeries after that. Or to have a mastectomy, which would be more aggressive, but would put an end to further surgeries.
There's no real "right" answer here... she and you need to decide which option she'd be most comfortable with. Another possibility is to ask for an MRI, which might identify any other problem areas prior to surgery. Good luck to you both - and thanks for being there to help her. PJH