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Tumor Growth


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If it takes years and years for the tumor to grow to just 3mm (or whatever), then why after only 3 months can additional tumors be found? And the cancer is back.

I don't understand how it can take so long for the initial tumor to grow then after just a few months the cancer "has spread" and there are additional tumors?! Were they there all along only they couldn't be detected? Then how did they grow so fast after only 3mths.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Yep, I have one thought. The original tumor is composed of a variety of cells growing at different rates, like a general population of things. The total rate of growth is an average of all these. The cells that escape from the original site are hardier and more aggressive, and they are the ones that start new tumors.

Same things about a recurrence. Most of the cells are killed off, but the hardier more aggressive ones can survive to grow again.

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Beth I have no idea but wanted to tell you that I myself have given this same question many many thoughts. of course I can never remember to ask the onc when Mom goes in. Curious to see what posts.

How are you feeling these days?

Take care,


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In Aug. of 2003 when I had surgery for my melanoma, I had a chest Xray and my right lung was clear.

In June of 2004 (less than 1 yr later), I had a tumor that was 6 cm.

That always bothered me that a tumor could bet that big that fast.

Love you all,


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In terms of treatment, too, my understanding is that some cancer cells can mutate and become resistant to the chemo being used...and then show up elsewhere, which is why a different chemo is used as second line treatment.

That's a rather simplistic way of putting it...but I had one very small primary in my lung to begin with, along with some lymph node involvement. First line chemo wiped ALL of that out. My chest is still clear. But some cells must have mutated and headed south...cuz I ended up with cancer in the liver/pancreas. Some tumors got big, fast! A 4 cm tumor in my liver in about four months!! :?

The good side of that, is my onc said, "When the cancer is this active (meaning growing fast), then it's also going to be very responsive to the chemo". I guess that presumes it's the right chemo for that particular mutation....but in my case, the Topotecan seems to be kicking cancer butt pretty good.

And in some cases too, Beth...I think you're right that there ARE micro-cells floating around that just aren't large enough yet to be picked up by scan or MRI or whatever. What kicks them off, in terms of starting to grow more rapidly.....I don't know. Good question for Ask the Experts, though!

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I always wondered how long it took for my first tumor to grow. It was 4cm by 5.5 cm at removal in Jan 2004. Then as possibly as early as May 2004, another one began growing. It was 1.5 cm at removal in late Feb 2005. In August 2004, it was 9 mm. I had no chem or rad for the first one.

Don M

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yeah yeah... a 17cm tumor is a bowling ball...a watermelon... did you get to see it??? I would have insisted on seeing that bugger. I would have taken a stick and poked at it.. Mine were dinky. Like just barely over 2cm. sniff sniff ...small. No big tales to tell..there were two of them. Some speculated that they were two primary tumors while others insisted that there can be only one primary tumor. But then the little buggers sent out colonies to both sides of lymphs in the mediastinum. Critters like to be all places at once. dang things.

I like Don Wood's explanation. I don't know anything about this, really, but it makes sense to me.

Well now, I just read about tarceva and avastin combination and how it is supposed to whip the dickens out of recurrence for advanced nsclc... that might be something to look into. I won't forget about this and if I get recurrence then I will probably want to try something aggressive again. Heck. I am not as tough as I used to be, but I am still pretty gnarly.

Hang in there miss Beth. Least you weren't carrying around a bowling ball in your chest.

love you little girl..

Cindi o'h

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Hey Beth,

Great question and one that I have thought about also, a lot. I took flight physicals every 6 months for more than 40 years. Over 80 X-rays of the buggers and nary a speck on my lungs. Retire and less than a year later there it is. What up with that? Just gotta deal with it!

We just gotta hang and deal with it. You're doing great . Git er done!!


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In my dad's case, the tumor just grew in 6 months (first diagnosis). He had the lung x-ray in Sept 2002 and the result was very good that nothing was found and very clear. Ironically, he was diagnosed in March of 2003. Cancer is a thing that it can grow in a very incredibly fast pace, especially SCLC, my dad's brain tumor was cut off, but in 1 1/2 month, the brain tumor recurred again. Neurosurgeon leader told us, it was rare that he never see this case which the tumor can grow in such a fast pace.

I think it's like a explosion, once it happens, you can stop it.

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of course, different cancers grows at different rates, too. small cell lung cancer is much more fast growing than (most) NSCLC, for instance.

that's why I think it's good to get a biopsy whenever you can, of new metastasis. to make sure you know what it is.

I believe melanoma is a realtively fast growing cancer.

I think ovarian cancer is.


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