Utilizing two facts about my suspicious finding: the mass size and lack of suspicion about the lymph nodes I immediately began to research stages of breast cancer. Fundamentally, I needed to know, "how bad is this?" and "what am I facing?"
Utilizing these two pieces of information I learned from the National Breast Cancer Foundation that the mass was likely either Stage 0 or Stage 1 cancer:
- Stage 0 is a non-invasive cancer in which there is no evidence of cancer cells or non-cancerous abnormal cells breaking out of the part of the breast in which they started. This includes Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) (carcinoma originating in the milk duct) or Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS) consisting of abnormal cell growth on the lobules (typically not considered to be cancer).
- Stage 1 Cancer is evident but is contained to only the area where the first abnormal cells began to develop and is either:
- Stage 1A is invasive breast cancer in which the cancer cells are breaking through to or invading normal surrounding breast tissue in which the Tumor is <2cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes
- Stage 1B is invasive breast cancer in which small groups of cancer cells between 0.2-2m are found in the lymph nodes or there is a <2cm tumor with small groups of cancer cells in the lymph nodes
When breast cancer is detected early in stages 0-1 it is very treatable with a very high survival rate.
The mass size and lack of suspicious findings in the lymph nodes now made sense - it meant that IF I had cancer it was treatable with a very high likelihood of good outcomes!
The next step, find out if I have cancer.