What Oncogene?

by Maggan

in Pathology,Physicians


Dr. Guru calls at 9 AM. Less brusque than during post-op a few days ago. (Less stressed out, I suppose.)

“No cells in the margins.”

What are the margins? He does not say and I do not think to ask.

(Before the tumor is removed, the surgeon inks a line around it. A clean margin means that no cancer cells are found in tissue samples within 2 mm on the inside of the ink line.)

I hang my hat on the report he gave my family in the waiting room after surgery. Wide clear margins. Pressed by me, nobody seems to remember his exact words. But certainly “wide” must mean more than 2 mm even in obscure medical lingo.

“No lymph node involvement, ” Dr. Guru says.

What a relief! I am ready to click my heels and do a victory lap around the office with him still on the phone. After all, his words: “one single cell in your lymph node means chemo,” have raked havoc with my mind ever since. The truth is that I have been dreading chemo more than hospice. Now it looks like I am safe.

“At this time, we’re only waiting for the report on the oncogene,”Dr. Guru tells me.

“You mean Her-/2?”

He does not answer.

If he does not refer to the HER-2/neu, does he mean that I need to be tested for the BRC1 or BRC2 inherited cancer gene? I am confused.

“Am I likely to have it?” I ask, still not sure what he means by “oncogene.”

“Not likely, given how slow the cancer is. I will call you back Friday.”

He hangs up.

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