What is proliferative index?

Breast tumors are analyzed to determine what percentage of cells are dividing (making new tumor cells). A proliferative index is reported to describe the number of cells that are actively growing. A low proliferative index means a slower growth rate and is considered more favorable than a high proliferative index as follows:

0-12% low/favorable
13-35% intermediate/borderline
>36% high/unfavorable

Not surprisingly a low proliferative index tends to occur in tumors with low tumor grade and positive ER and PR.

My proliferative index is 22% which is considered fairly aggressive but not impossible to get under control.

What is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma?

Invasive means that the cancer has “invaded” or spread to the surrounding breast tissues. Ductal means that the cancer began in the milk ducts, which are the “pipes” that carry milk from the milk-producing lobules to the nipple. Carcinoma refers to any cancer that begins in the skin or other tissues that cover internal organs — such as breast tissue. All together, “invasive ductal carcinoma” refers to cancer that has broken through the wall of the milk duct and begun to invade the tissues of the breast. Over time, invasive ductal carcinoma can spread to the lymph nodes and possibly to other areas of the body.

What stage of cancer do you have if you have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma?

It does vary but you can fall within the Stage I – Stage IV range. The final staging depends on whether or not the cancer has invaded your lymph nodes and/or spread beyond lymph nodes to other organs.

The National Cancer Institute has a detailed description of each stage.

My cancer has not yet been staged at Stage II however I will be receiving treatment as if it is Stage III. There are some extenuating circumstances that I will blog about later once I have a firm grasp on the issues at hand.

What is the survival rate of the different stages of breast cancer?

This chart was taken from the American Cancer Society.

Stage 5-year Survival Rate
0 93%
I 88%
IIA 81%
IIB 74%
IIIA 67%
IIIB 41%*
IIIC 49%*

*These numbers are correct as written (stage IIIB shows worse survival than stage IIIC).

What are drains?

Jackson-Pratt Drain

The best way i can describe them is they look like little grenade sized plastic bulbs. The bulbs are attached to rubber tubing that is inserted into your breast. The fluids that build up in your breast because of surgery are drained out through this device. You should empty it twice a day or so and make sure to keep up with the measurement of fluids. They use the measurements to determine when they can be removed. They are kind of pain to figure out how to fit them into clothing but the Loran Smith Cancer center in Athens gives you a really cute little drain purse to carry around that makes it a whole lot more convenient and attractive.