Oncology (General Cancer)/spindle cell cancer


A friend (63yrs old) was recently diagnosed with spindle cell cancer of the breast.  She had a double mastectomy.  All the nodes were clear.  They did find regular cancer in her other breast although very small.  At this time the doctors don't know how to treat it.  She was scheduled for chemo but now the doctor is saying he wants to get a second opinion.  They won't come right out and tell her but it sounds like the prognosis is poor for those who have gone through chemo.  She has had numerous scans.  Originally they told her the bone scan was clear except for some signs of "arthritis" but now they are telling her it might be cancer?  As you can tell she's getting conflicting information and just wants the truth.  The doctor told her he'd consult with doctors from Toronto and get back to her as to the treatment.  Any light you could shine on this would be helpful.

Thank you,

A spindle cell cancer may be a sarcoma, and these can arise in the breast, and they don't respond to chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.  However, it's possible that the doctors got it all with surgery.  As for the bone scan, it's important that this be followed up.  Spindle cell cancers don't generally metastasize to bone like breast cancers do, instead, they go to liver and lungs.  So if a PET scan showed significant activity in the bone, I'd suggest a biopsy before concluding that it was spindle cell cancer.  As for the regular breast cancer, if it was a very early stage, I wouldn't treat that either unless with tamoxifen or some other kind of gentle therapy, and even there, there is controversy as to whether it does any good in very early disease.  If your doctor is uncertain, I would agree that a second opinion would be useful.  The spindle cell cancer should be examined by a sarcoma specialist since these tumors are quite rare and you want to get an accurate answer.  Hope this helps.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.