Week 4 Oncologic Pathology

For this week’s Discussion in our course, read the case study and answer the discussion questions.

Case Study

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.

Discussion Questions

  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 Malignant 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.)
  4. Discuss the reasons why the axillary lymph nodes were removed and it was recommended that the patient continue with chemotherapy and radiation. (See Spread of Malignant Tumors.)
  5. Discuss the different treatments that the patient is going through, including advantages and disadvantages of each type and overall prognosis. (See Treatment.)

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