A routine mammogram showed a large mass in the right breast of Mrs. H, age 42 years. A biopsy confirmed the presence of a malignant tumor. Mrs. H was concerned because her mother and
an aunt had had breast cancer. No metastases were detected at this time. A mastectomy was performed, and a number of axillary and mediastinal lymph nodes were removed. Pathologic
examination showed that several nodes from each area contained malignant cells. Given that this case was considered to be stage III, it was recommended that Mrs. H have chemotherapy
and radiation treatment following surgery and later have her ovaries removed to reduce her estrogen levels.
1. Discuss the differences between a malignant and benign tumor and how they may be used in diagnosing the cancer. (See Characteristics of Malignant and Benign Tumors.)
2. Discuss what other signs and symptoms Mrs. H may expect to experience if the tumor returns. (See Pathophysiology, Local Effects of Malignant Tumors, Systemic Effects of alignant Tumors.)
3. Other than the biopsy used in this case, discuss what other diagnostic tests could have been used to diagnose the cancer. (See Diagnostic Tests.)