Tests, Tests and More Tests

How it was discovered that my primary breast cancer had already spread

11/5/20231 min read

After writing my previous post, all about how I was first diagnosed, I can’t really bring myself to write about the emotions involved with finding out that the cancer had spread - I’m sure I will do at some point. For now, I thought I’d just write up how we found out and what tests and scans I had.

I had two core biopsies: one from the breast tumour itself and one from one of the (many) enlarged lymph nodes. This was done by ultrasound, a titanium tumour marker was also placed. Surgery was discussed at this point.

The CT scan of my pelvis and abdomen came back showing “bony changes” on my spine and pelvis. I was told by the consultant I would need more tests and at this point it was a 50/50 possibility that it was cancer but that either way, the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes so my care would be transferred over to The Christie for treatment before any surgery.

I had a breast MRI. Out of all the tests I had, this was the one that I hated the most. I was so uncomfortable and had to lie on my front, placing my boobs into two holes. It was not a dignified experience! This was the scan that meant I had to stop breastfeeding straight away. That was fun.

My PET-CT scan was my first trip to The Christie hospital, which involved fasting, having a radioactive dye injected into me and then having to sit still in a metal box (small cubicle?) and wait for the dye to do its thing before being taken to the scanner.

The final scan was an MRI of my spine and pelvis and all I had to do then was wait for all the results.

My first appointment with my Oncologist confirmed that the breast cancer had spread but I had to wait a further week for the MRI results to confirm that it had spread to 3 vertebrae on my spine, my pelvis and (randomly) the top of my right arm. Surgery was off the table and I needed to start treatment.