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rib pain after 11 years NED

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celeste View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jan 11 2017 at 5:41am
I've been reading a few posts here about recurrence. I'm concerned about some recent rib pain. I really appreciate this forum and want to share my story. I was diagnosed in 2005 when I was 28 yrs old.

I felt a small pea-size lump in my breast which grew larger over a few weeks. I'll have to look at my records for the exact size. I remember it being about the size of a walnut. I thought it was an infection until a biopsy said it was adenocarcinoma, triple negative breast cancer. After 3 rounds of EC my tumor shrunk to nothing. I started on taxotere but the tumor started growing again. I had a lumpectomy with clean margins, although before chemo I did have positive lymph nodes near my armpit. I had radiation to my left breast and armpit area. I have been NED since then (almost 12 years). Smile I had follow up scans for one year at 6 month intervals. My onc said if the cancer was going to come back it would happen in the first year. I was not tested for BRCA because at that time the test was very expensive and my insurance did not want to pay for it. 

I saw a primary doctor today because of the rib pain I'm having. It feels different from the costochondritis I had in the past. It started with a stinging pain like a bee sting. The pain fluctuates in intensity and has been going on for more than one month. I also now get muscle spasms under my ribs in front on the left side Shocked The doc recommended I take ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. He said if the pain is worse lying down it could be costochondritis. At least he scheduled me for a mammogram and ultrasound next week. I don't think the mammo will show anything because I have always had small dense breasts. Mammos have always been really painful for me. I prefer breast MRIs but I think a mammo needs to be done first? I asked for a chest xray, tumor marker levels or a bone scan (pet scan would be preferable) but the doc said a chest xray probably wouldn't show anything and wants to wait on the others. I'm waiting to see an oncologist. I'll update when I have results. Please keep your fingers crossed for me. 


2005 (age 28) stage 3 adenocarcinoma, 3.5 cm adnexal mass, Ki67 76%, left breast er-, pr-, her2- neoadjuvant EC x 3 doses shrunk the tumor, ineffective taxotere, lumpectomy, radiation, NED
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Warrior31 View Drop Down
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Hi celeste,

Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your story. It's great to hear from survivors who've been NED for as long as you have! I hope yours is just a scare and that everything will turn out fine. I've been done with treatment since July 2016, and finished radiotherapy last March (breast and node areas). 

I too have had rib pain, on and off, just below my affected breast. It would be a mix of stinging and more diffuse pain in that whole area. The pain would actually not be precisely localized, so I had trouble saying whether it came from the ribs (bones) themselves or from the skin/fascia on top of them, but noticed that I felt more pain when I stopped doing my exercises to stretch my whole breast/armpit/side area. Once I started exercising again, the pain disappeared. I haven't felt it for a while (although now it's more my shoulder/arm that feels weird). The way I stretch is that I lay down at the edge of my bed, in a T-shape position, with my affected arm hanging down. I sometimes hold a light water bottle to add some weight. And I stay like that for 1 minute or more. I then stay in the position but bring my arm closer to my head so that it stretches my armpit more. 

I am telling you this because I know that radiotherapy can have long lasting effects on our skin and nerves, and that these can come back even after years and years without any pain. You might want to try stretching and see how it feels, and also mention it to your doctor who could recommended a specialized physio?

Please keep us updated. There are a lot of women here that can help you out or simply lend an ear to listen!


Dx at 31 yrs-old 06/03/15; left IDC 1.6 cm; Chemo 28/04/15: 12 weekly Taxol then 4 AC; Lx with SNB 24/11/15; no PCR: 3 mm residual; 20 Rads 20/01-17/02/16. 8 cycles of Capecitabine started 04/01/16.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote celeste Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 28 2017 at 11:14pm
Hi Warrior31,

Thank you for the support. I will try the stretches you mentioned. The mammogram did not show anything (no surprise) but my ultrasound was inconclusive. The doctor ordered a breast MRI so I'm just waiting for that. I will see a new oncologist Monday. I had routine breast MRIs in 2010 and 2006 so they will compare those. 
Congratulations on finishing treatment! Thumbs Up
2005 (age 28) stage 3 adenocarcinoma, 3.5 cm adnexal mass, Ki67 76%, left breast er-, pr-, her2- neoadjuvant EC x 3 doses shrunk the tumor, ineffective taxotere, lumpectomy, radiation, NED
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