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breast cancer that has spread to the spine

busterruss
Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2008

does anyone know anything about breast cancer that has spread in the bones/spinal cord. thanks.

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

A friend of mine had that happen to her about ten years ago. The oncologist gave her an aggressive regime of chemo to attack the stuff systematically and used radiation and I think surgery as well to remove localized tumors. It took a year before she was NED. I do not know her type of cancer. That makes a difference. Another friend had a similar predicament. She had cancer spread 5 times and had chemo, often with surgery and radiation, 5 times. She was a 22 year survivor when I met her, undergoing chemo for the 5th time and still doing fine. She said she kept a lot of hats around to deal with the inevitable hair loss! Her remarks to me were to get to the best,get a doctor you can work with, get aggressive, and good luck! I don't want to sound too positive about something this serious. Obviously not all cancers respond to treatment as well as these ladies' did. And not everyone wants to go through an aggressive regime. My own grandmother got to the point in her life where she was 80 some years old and just didn't want anymore treatment for a circulatory problem. She had a right to say no and we told her it was okay to continue just palative treatment if that was her choice. She cried because she felt guilty about "quitting". It should be the patient's choice and the patient's choice should be respected, especially when the outcome is not definate. But sometimes being aggressive does make the difference. So if the patient wants to fight, get to the best clinic you can, find a doctor whose philosopy (aggressiveness) matches what you want, and go for it. Good luck!

seof
Posts: 826
Joined: Jun 2007

I agree with the other 2 ladies before me. The Dr. is your best 1st source of information. This site is a good source of personal experience information from real people who have been there (I am not one of them when it comes to spreading....yet). I also agree that the final decision about what to do is the Patient's, but that patient should try to be as well-informed as possible, which it seems you are trying to be (if you are not the pt. you are seeking info for someone you care about, I assume).

Hopefully others will respond with more useful info.

seof.

terryI
Posts: 43
Joined: Sep 2003

Hi,

I am so sorry to hear this has happen to you. I also have breast cancer that has spread to my hips, pelvis and going into my lungs. I know they treated me with rounds of radation for my hips and pelvis. I am now on chemo abraxane and zometa. zometa is for the bones, please let me know how you are making out with your treatment. Will be praying for you.

love,

terry i

hward2007
Posts: 60
Joined: Mar 2008

Other than routine test, what is the frist sign or is there one that our cancer has spread after treatment.
Heather the Nut

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Most of my friends that have had radiation or chemo had tests beforehand to determine if their cancer had spread. MRI's, PET/CAT scans, and various other tests can be done to determine if there are any sizeable mets.That might pick out a spread before symptoms show up. I understand the microscopic tumors are too small to register, but things over one cm usually show up and the pattern is obvious (usually) to the radiologist and oncologist. My oncologist said that he would not do such tests on me since I had stage 1 breast cancer until I had symptoms of a met, so naturally I asked your question. How would you know if you had symptoms? This is what he told me. If you have a specific spot in your body that hurts for no good reason and doesn't clear up in a few weeks, the doctors should check it out. Obviously if you just dropped a book on your toe and it hurts, it is probably not a bone met, though you still might want to see your doctor about a broken toe! But if your bone starts aching out of the blue, progressively gets worse, and the over-the-counter pain pills aren't stopping the pain, you need to go to the doctor to explore things. Sometimes the cancer has spread. And sometimes it is something else, like age-related arthritis or some other explanation. Just because we have cancer doesn't mean we can't get anything and everything else!!! I developed a cough that wouldn't go away. After several course of antibiotics, the doctor finally insisted on an X-ray. I was sure I had pneumonia. I did, but I also had a suspicious lung nodule. That led to a CAT scan, then a PET/CAT scan, and finally a biopsy. Nope, I didn't have stage four breast cancer met to the lung. The nodule turned out, to everyone's surprise, to be stage one lung cancer. I got lucky twice as it were, though it was a strange kind of lucky. If someone with a history of cancer began to have memory problems, headaches that don't repond to simple pain pills, or even seizures, the doctor ought to explore the possibility of brain mets. Pain in the abdomen that won't go away, esp. on the right side, might be a liver met. Or maybe not. It will not prolong your life to catch it before symptoms show up unfortunately, so it is okay to wait till the cancer progresses to the point it causes symptoms. Then the oncologist can make up a plan to treat those symptoms and hopefully whip the beast back into something controllable. In short, things that hurt without a clear cause, keep getting worse, and don't respond to the simple pain meds need to be explored. The cancer may have spread and it may be time for a more aggressive treatment regime.

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