Thursday, March 5, 2009
Biopsy & Genetic Testing
Tuesday was another day full of pokes and prods for Sara. The doctors allowed me to stay in the room for the entire procedure. I've often said that if I was unable to fly that I would want to be a doctor. My experience in the hospital on Tuesday confirmed that fact.
Here is the info on the biopsies. The doctors had Sara lay face down on a table with a hole cut in it (at breast level). Once situated and in the correct position, her boob was compressed and X-rays were taken of the mass. Then the X-ray machine was rotated +15 degrees and -15 degrees from center and more pics were taken. Once the location of the tumor was derived, the largest needle I have ever seen was positioned for entry. I had to look away when the doc scalpeled her where the "needle" was going to penetrate. They numbed her up and started the countdown. "3...2...1...Deploy the probe." A large blast of air released and the pencil sized needle was jabbed into the lump. There was some cutting noises and then suction as the sampled tissue was removed. They dumped the tissue (6 pieces about pencil eraser sized) onto a tray and then took that for X-ray (to ensure the calcifications were in the sample). Biopsy # 1 complete.
Then, it was over to the other table for the lymph node biopsy. Sara was positioned on her right side with her left arm up over her head. With the ultrasound, they found the largest lymph node and got 4 syringes ready for the FNA (fine needle aspiration). They numbed her armpit and inserted the needle into the lymph node. Once it was in the middle of the node, they pulsed it back and forth to get some cells in the needle. The needle was removed and the sample was extracted onto a glass slide for viewing under a microscope. The cytologist (lady who studies cells) was there with her high powered microscope to ensure a valid sample was taken. I got to look through the microscope at all the lymphocytes (it looked like 100s of tiny tadpoles). Once all the samples were taken, the pathologist came upstairs and looked at the samples to confirm that there were enough cells for a diagnosis. Biopsy # 2 complete.
On Wednesday afternoon, we went in for genetic counseling and decided to have her blood sent away to a lab in Salt Lake City for DNA testing. Here is what they are going to be looking for...
For those of you interested in Abstract Art, I think a large painting of BRCA2 would look good on the wall in your living room.
Following is a paragraph from the pamphlet we received from the genetic counselor...
"Two specific genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a big role in preventing breast and ovarian cancers. Normally, these genes act like brakes that help stop abnormal cell growth. However, ALTERATIONS, or MUTATIONS, can occur in these BRCA genes. When this happens, the genes do not work as they should, and there is a loss of control on cell growth. Certain groups of cells can grow at an abnormally fast rate, and cancer may develop."
We found out yesterday, that surgery is NOT going to occur on Friday. On Friday, we will find out the pathologist's findings from the biopsies and develop a plan with the surgical oncologist. We need to wait to get the results back from the DNA test prior to surgery (if she has the gene mutation, she is probably going to get a double mastectomy). The genetic counselor put a "rush" on this sample and we are meeting with her next Thursday.
I promise to update the blog on Friday, once we get the results back from pathology. Our hope and prayer is that the mass is contained within the breast and that the lymph nodes are clean.
Keep praying! Thanks, B & S