February 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

7 days chemo countdown!

Back to last summer, early August now. It’s been over a month since my first visit with Dr. L. so it seems like a long time to get a definitive diagnosis. I’m impatient, but glad that the Kaiser medical team is being thorough. Dr. L calls and tells me that the ultrasound is “totally normal”. I get an amended pathology report after the outside consultation with Mayo.

8 August 2011

FINAL DIAGNOSIS: Endometrium, biopsy: Serous carcinoma, grade 3 of 3.

I quickly do some more Internet research. The National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet which explains tumor grading.  Here’s an excerpt from what I read:

Tumor grade is a system used to classify cancer cells in terms of how abnormal they look under a microscope and how quickly the tumor is likely to grow and spread. Many factors are considered when determining tumor grade, including the structure and growth pattern of the cells. The specific factors used to determine tumor grade vary with each type of cancer.

Tumor grade should not be confused with the stage of a cancer. Cancer stage refers to the extent or severity of the cancer, based on factors such as the location of the primary tumor, tumor size, number of tumors, and lymph node involvement (spread of cancer into lymph nodes).

Based on the microscopic appearance of cancer cells, pathologists commonly describe tumor grade by four degrees of severity: Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4. The cells of Grade 1 tumors resemble normal cells, and tend to grow and multiply slowly. Grade 1 tumors are generally considered the least aggressive in behavior.

Conversely, the cells of Grade 3 or Grade 4 tumors do not look like normal cells of the same type. Grade 3 and 4 tumors tend to grow rapidly and spread faster than tumors with a lower grade.

Not good news, but it doesn’t seem consistent with the ultrasound. I ask Dr. L. if there possibly could have been an error with handling the specimen or slides? He checks the Kaiser records, and quickly gets back to me: “there were no other endometrial specimens taken on July 1st in this Kaiser office.” What’s next? Hana does her best to distract me by investigating some kale.


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