Has it spread or is just a bad back? - Breast Cancer Haven

Breast Cancer Haven
2,909 members1,537 posts

Has it spread or is just a bad back?


I'm hoping that you might be able to give me some advice, I'm in a bit of a state at the moment. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer in April 2016, I had a deep section incision, axilliary node clearance, 4 sessions of TAC chemo, and 20 sessions of radiotherapy.

Then in the bad weather before Christmas I went flying and landed very eloquently on my lymphatic left arm and hip. My hip was sore and my arm felt broken but it was just the lymphoedema. A couple of weeks later I pulled my back moving a heavy piece of furniture. The pain reduced but didn't really go away and when I went down with flu in January it came back full force. I got to the end of February and realised that I was still struggling, I asked my gp to refer me to an orthopaedic consultant to find what was going on. She didn't suggest I needed to see the oncologist.

The orthopaedic consultant ordered an MRI which found changes to the thigh bone in the form of bruising and signal changes around the bones in the spine. Can anyone tell me what the significance of signal changes is?

The metabolic bone screen and bone profile screen came back as normal.

I've been referred back to my oncologist and she is worried. I have a isotope bone scan and a full body skeletal survey next week and see the oncologist again the week after.

Can anyone offer me any advice, I am on a rollercoaster of emotions at the moment. I've been very positive throughout my treatment but now I don't know if I'm sitting or standing. Part of me is convinced that the cancer is back and then I think it's just a bad back (I've always had back problems and back pain). Do any of you have experience of being in a similar situation?

Sorry for such a long post! Any advice or comments gratefully received.

12 Replies

Hi Julie. I. Can’t answer your question, I can only say try not to panic. I know it’s easier said than done. Not all changes signal cancer. I was told the doctors thought I had bone cancer in my neck. Fortunately the changes were due to degeneration. I manage with painkillers and a collar. I hope you will get some good news soon. Will be thinking of you and keeping everything crossed.

Hi Julie, I think all of us worry about any aches and pains we have after treatment for BC, I am careful about my bones as I have osteoporosis which was diagnosed at the same time, when they checked my bones on a dexa scan before starting letrozole which thins the bones!

It sounds like you have had a load of events and health issues recently the fall and flu etc, you can also get infection in the bone marrow, obviously you have done the right thing in seeking help, my thoughts are with you, as I am sure all the ladies on here will be.

Deb xx

Dear Julie, I havent experienced what you are going through but its understandable that with everything thats happened to you, you are worrying. Its sound like the doctors are on top of this which is the best thing you can do. It can take some time to get over the flu and nasty falls, I hope that the results of your scans are all clear for you. Wishing you the very best. Caroline hugs xx

Thank you all, your replies have helped me get my feet back on the ground. It's good to hear that it could be other things. Keep your fingers crossed for me :-) xx

I too had Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Cancer in April 2016, had a lumpectomy, full auxillary clearance and 15 rounds of radiotherapy. Landed up with sepsis 3 days after my operation and as the infection wouldn’t clear had to go back for a second operation. 4 months after all this I landed up having bad back and leg pain. My doctor and oncologist organised a MRI as they were a bit worried, but thankfully it came back clear of any suspicious findings. Strong pain killers helped and now have just had my first year mammogram and all clear. I know it is hard not to worry but try to stay positive and I hope all,your tests come back clear for you x

in reply to Linnb23

Thank you that's helpful to know. Sounds like you had quite an awful time. I've had hip and back ache for years and it's always there in the background. I keep trying to feel if it's any different, surely it would be. I'm trying so hard to be positive but it is difficult though it's good to know that others have been through the same thing with positive outcomes :-) xx

in reply to Linnb23

Glad you got great news. I DC is the most common just the stage and what type is different. I’m a Nurse and thought when we have Mets it comes back in the breast. Most of the time it does not, mostly bone, liver, lungs and brain. I agree that sounds like your Drs are on top of the situation. The waiting is one of the hardest things. Scans, indexes and all of it is one big worry machine. I have learned that it does not change anything and makes it worse. Good luck...

Just a quick update, I saw the oncologist on Tuesday and patches of well established cancer cells have been found in some of my bones and I have a fractured vertebrae! It's treatable. I feel a lot better now, not the news I wanted to hear but I have a plan and I know what I'm dealing with.

Sorry to hear that Julie but like you say you know what you are dealing with, you sound positive. I wish you well, we are always here to lean on xx

in reply to cazlav

Thank you. I am positive and feel so much better now I have the diagnosis xx

I too have a bad back and scans show metastatic breast cancer. I went to my GP with a sciatic nerve problem, and was sent for scans and told I had deposits on my back. I am seeing two consultants on Monday, one NHS and one private to see what routes I am offered and will choose the one I feel most comfortable with. You do feel very alone and scared when it returns. I had no e first diagnosed in 2010, lumpectomy, chemo and radiotherapy. My GP broke to me in a very callous way and I was severely shocked. Since this I have sunk into depression and have lost weight since I can't bring myself to eat. I am sorry you to are going through this, it's difficult to get so far away from it and then it comes back. I had finally got to a place where I wasn't thinking about it every day. Now a nightmare. Good luck to you xx

EllieEllie, my heart goes out to you, I really understand how you feel. I was just starting to get back on my feet and starting to think about going forward too. But none of us know what's going to happen next, life has thrown us a curve ball - again, and it's not fair but it's what we've got and what we have to deal with.

I've had nearly 2 weeks to think about my diagnosis and the shock has worn off, I've finally stopped expecting to wake up and find its just been an elaborate bad dream, though I haven't quite stopped expecting a call from the oncologist to tell me they gave me someone else's results and my pain really was sciatica.

I haven't told my family yet as my daughter is about to take her finals at university and my son is excited because he's got a summer job in the states and I'm not going to burst their bubbles until I have to, but I have spoken to good friends who have been amazingly supportive.

Like you, I've lost my appetite and am struggling to eat but having to pretend everything is fine actually helps.

My oncologist seemed confident that the treatment she can offer will work for several years and then there are other treatments I can move onto, and new treatments are being developed all the time. I'm also getting a second opinion to see if anything else can be offered.

In a way, I feel relieved. The 2 weeks of waiting for test results was awful. I didn't get the results I wanted but I know I will never have to get through that again.

I've had 3 aunts who have gone through this before me and I saw how they took control and made the decision to live their lives to the full. I think over the last few weeks I've realised that I have to do the same. Making that decision has given me a sense that I'm back in control instead of it being in control of me.

Please try to eat, even if you don't feel like it, it will make you feel better and help you to sleep if you are struggling with that. You've been through a lot already and come through it, you'll get through this, we both will.

Good luck with your appointments tomorrow and I hope they leave you feeling more in control and positive. Thank you for contacting me, it's made me feel as though I'm not the only person in the universe facing this challenge. Xx

You may also like...