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Had mastectomy and total hysterectomy done. Getting random bone pain. Any thoughts?

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I had a mastectomy 18 months ago (with XXXXXXX margins) for DCIS and multifocal IDC. I also had a total hysterectomy. My cancer which the largest focus was 2mm and grade 1 had an oncotype dx score of 8 and is strongly ER/PR+ and her-. Most recently I had a negative follow up surveillance MRI. I take Arimidex. My blood work has been normal except my Total ALP is 115 and my bone specific alp is 20. I have had random bone pain since starting Arimidex. I am 42. One month ago I developed a sore upper arm and shoulder. I had a similar pain in July. Obviously my concern is bone mets. My doctor is not alarmed and said the ALP is due to the bone turnover from the hysterectomy and armidex. He feels the arm pain is from the surgery. Your thoughts?
Mon, 21 Jan 2013 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Indranil Ghosh 4 hours later

Thanks for writing in.

The tumor you had was quite low grade and early stage. The biology was also very good in that it was ER/PR+ and Her2 Neg, oncotype low. You are on the right track by taking arimidex. But because of the removal of ovaries and the effect of arimidex you are predisposed to having low bone density. The high bone turnover can indeed lead to high ALP. You should have yearly bone densitometry to look at this.

The pain over arm is also quite common after surgery-for many years sometimes. It is due to the nerve damage from surgery. Nothing to worry about that. Just continue the exercises as explained to you.

Overall you are doing just fine.

Hope I have answered your query. I will be happy to answer any follow-up queries.

Dr Indranil Ghosh

MD (AIIMS), DM Medical Oncology (AIIMS),


Department of Medical Oncology,

Tata Medical Center, Kolkata
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Had mastectomy and total hysterectomy done. Getting random bone pain. Any thoughts? 10 hours later
Thank you for your reply. A few other issues to mention. My recent labs also showed my Collagen cross linked N-Telopeptide Urine to be 52, would that also be associated with surgical menopause and arimidex? Also my calcium was 10.7 and my albumin was 5.4. My doctor said the high albumin drives up the calcium. My white blood cell count was 10.5...with absolute neutrophils 7529. I had not been sick recently. Finally what is the typical time frame for recurrence after my type of cancer profile? Okay one last concern could over use of my arm that had the node disection (0/4) cause this pain to flare up? Thank you again for your time and advise.
Answered by Dr. Indranil Ghosh 2 hours later

Thanks for follow up.

N-telopeptide seems to be in normal range, however it varies from lab to lab. You can check whether it is in the normal range in your report. It is good if it is normal, that means there is no excess bone loss. Calcium is also probably normal or just above, and albumin indeed influences the calcium.

I must make it very clear that the chances of your cancer coming back ever is very low, to the tune of 2-5%. Hence no time frame can be specified though it can happen at any time, even after 10 yrs.

Lifting heavy weights in the operated arm can definitely cause pain or swelling and should be avoided.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Had mastectomy and total hysterectomy done. Getting random bone pain. Any thoughts? 48 hours later
Thank you again Dr. XXXXXXX your information is helpful. One final question:

Would my recent breast mri capture any images of my upper arms or is this only imaging the breasts/reconstruction? All the report noted was no evidence of malignancy and all lymph nodes look of normal size.

Again, that you for your responses!
Answered by Dr. Indranil Ghosh 9 hours later
The MRI looks at the breast/reconstruction and axilla but not really the arms. Chances of the tumor spreading to the arms as such is quite low and no routine imaging is done to detect it.
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