Treatment Options

Lludwig Member Posts: 5
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Just diagnosed in July with invasive Ductal carcinoma, 1 cm+, no lymph node involvement. Due to strong family history of cancer, had bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. After 1 consultation with my oncologist, and after the drill on the 5 year survival and reoccurence rate, I am so confused if I should take chemo. They say I can just take hormones. The hormones sound pretty dangerous with the side effects since I am post menopausal. They have told me they got all the detected cancer, but they could not tell me that I didn't have other cancer cells that were undetectable. I am all for destroying all these cells and getting on with my life. Anyone out there in the same boat, or have already tackled this decision? I would certainly appreciate some help, this is really worse than the two surgeries I have went through. Thanks so much..... Linda L


  • grandmagail
    grandmagail Member Posts: 28
    Mine was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma also and was a little over two centimeters when they did the surgery. The MRI three weeks earlier had shown it to be 1.4. I have a daughter-in-law that works for my oncologist and I have to admit that I really listen to what she has to say about it and she does want me to have chemo...just to be safe. She said the alternative is not good. These decisions are hard ones. I lost my sister to ovarian cancer last year. She had chemo for seven years and I just keep thinking that I can do it for six months. I havn't had my consultation with the oncologist yet and they are doing the staging tests before then. I do know people who have been through chemo and radiation and are doing fine years later. I may be putting my head in the sand, but I'm sure I will do what my oncologist suggests. I really wish that I could have been more help. I feel I am just picking my way through a maze also. The very best of luck to you in this.
  • phoenixrising
    phoenixrising Member Posts: 1,508
    Hi Linda, I also almost didn't do the chemo thinking that the hormone therapy would cover it. I was very, very much against chemo and if an alternative proven method had come my way I probably would have taken it. You have to do what you will be comfortable with in the future should it return. Sounds like they caught it very early and you have taken precautions with your bilateral surgery, but if you don't do the chemo and for one reason or another you're unable to take the anti-estrogens, you might kinda wish you had done the chemo.

    I thought for sure I would be taking the Aromatase Inhibitors and browbeat my onc for it, as using only that is not protocol here. But my bone density scan wouldn't allow it and so here I am on Tamoxifen which goes to show you that the future is very unpredictable. I knew deep inside that I should do the chemo, perhaps you know deep inside what is right for you.

    Good luck to you on your decision making.

  • seof
    seof Member Posts: 819 Member
    These decisions are tough,to be sure. My Oncologist did Chemo 1st. Apparently it is the up and coming trend. That way they know for certain if the drugs work on your individual body. For me it did, with amazingly few side effects. I finish 6 months of chemo November 26, then bilateral mastectomy Dec. 21. After they remove the breast tissue and lymph nodes, it will be examined under a microscope to see if any cancer cells remain. Radiation will be done on the breast that had the tumor. If lymph and breast tissue are clear, that will be all and reconstruction can follow after radiation effects have healed. If cancer cells show up in the tissue, we will continue more Herceptin (which has been used along with the chemo successfully) to get rid of the rest. You can go to to learn about side effects of specific drugs. Also, talk to your doctor. They have a lot of ways to combat many of the side effects, so many more people are not having it as bad on chemo as it used to be. I find information is the best weapon against fear, but the decisions are still tough. It's not like a math test where you can learn XYZ formula and you are guaranteed the right answer. There are no guarantees with cancer treatment. You just have to do the best you can with the information at hand and be determined to have no regrets.

    Best wishes, seof
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
    As others have said, it is a tough choice. Mine was 'easy', it was in the, chemo for me (or at least you would think). BUT, I had just had a full course of chemo (different stuff, mind you) 6 months earlier, and did NOT want to do it again...On my 5th 2nd opinion, I was convinced to go forward...
    If you decide to take chemo...please, please, please stay well hydrated....I drank 4 quarts of straight water the day before, day of, and day after infusion. I sit here, 1 year later, with NO neuropathy or other lasting sides, even tho for me the chemo was nasty....

    I am post menopausal as a result of a total hyster with my bowel resection, and am now on Tamoxifen for 2 years because of bone loss, then on to Aromatase Inhibitors for 3 years or so....

    Hugs, Kathi
  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698 Member
    Hi Linda,

    I would suggest that you get at least one 2nd opinion under your belt before making your final decision...perhaps even two.

    It's very difficult to make this decision indeed and my heart goes out to you.

    As much as the "hormones" can have some scary and nasty side effects (short term and long term ones) so can chemo.

    You didn't say whether you were Her/2 positive? That may have some bearing on whether or not you may benefit very much from chemo? Since your doctor is recommending hormones, I'm assuming that your tumor was hormone positive?

    People can advise you and/or even nudge you one way or the other but the bottom line is and should be, HOW YOU FEEL. No one else will live with that decision. Only you.

    Read and research as much as possible. Ask your doctors lots of questions. If you haven't already done so, get a copy of your pathology report, so you can understand it completely, as it can be helpful to fully understand the characteristics of your particular tumor. Then, try to find out what the usual recommended "gold standard" of treatment is for your pathology. If you find that this is not adding up, then ask your doctor to explain why he/she is recommending a treatment which is not ususal for your type of cancer, or why he/she is NOT recommending what seems to be the usual treatment, per your pathology.

    Take your time in trying to make your decision the most-informed decision possible for yourself, taking into consideration, your "gut feeling" about it. That way, you won't end up second guessing yourself in the longrun. When chemo is apparently optional, I think it requires even greater effort in getting to a decision.

    Keep in mind that chemo is no guarantee that cancer will not return. Radiation is no guarantee that it won't return. Also keep in mind that some women have experienced recurrence and/or mets, while taking hormones and even while on chemo. Until something better becomes available to us, our choices may seem grim, but they're all we have, warts and all.

    I am 6 years post surgery, chemo and radiation. My tumor was 1cm and Her2/neu positive, hormone negative. If my pathology had been different, then I would have said no chemo. Since I had lumpectomy, radiation was pretty much a given and the radiation decision was easier to make. I am basically healthy, with the exception of two issues, which cropped up within the past year and have been determined to be caused by chemo. Both are chronic in nature. Still, I do not regret my decision to have chemo. Once I made my decisions, I never looked back. I was at peace with my reasons for my choices and that was very important to be at peace with it. Just sort of said ok, here I go and whatever happens after this, well, there it will be and I'll deal with it when and if. That's why I believe it's so important to fully understand your particular cancer and have a good understanding of what's recommended and why. One doctor's opinion can seldom be broad enough to help us get to our decisions. It certainly wasn't for me. The bottom line logic, in my humble opinion, is this question: Is it worth it to put yourself at risk, if the benefit to be gained from chemo is miniscule? Many women have said to me that they didn't have chemo, because a 2 or 3% increase in their survival chance, just wasn't worth the risks for them, while others have said that even 1% increase was worth it. Everyone is different.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you continued good health and happiness.

    I know this time is trying but just hang in there because you WILL get to your decision and when you do it will fit, when all is said and done.

    Love, light & laughter,