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Posts: 53
Joined: Jan 2001

I am hoping someone can help me find some information and /or statistics for my mom.
Six yrs agomy mom (59 then) was diagnosed with cancer in her right breast. She had a modified Radical mastectomy and all of her lymphnodes removed (which were clear), and no adjuvant(?) treatment (chemo, radiation ,etc.)
In Jan.2001 ,my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her left breast. On Feb 22nd she had another modified radical mastectomy, and only a portion of her lymphnodes removed (which,she says are clear).
She is seeing a different set of drs. this time , and her oncologist is putting her on Tomaxafin. The oncologist says that the tamoxafin gives her an extra 25% chance of staying cancer free, and has discussed Chemotherapy with my mom, but says the chemo only adds another 7% to the tamoxafin's 25%.
I am hearing all of this through my mom, she is in Va. and I am in Mi. I was able to stay with her for a week during and after her surgery and plan on going back down while my kids are on easter vacation.
My questions are:
1. Is this considered recurrance? I am having a difficult time finding information and statistics for treatment since I'm not really sure how our situation is classified.
2. How can the chemo only add another 7%? She wants to do all she can to remain cancer free, but is finding it difficult to consent to chemo if these numbers are accurate. I thought maybe the oncologist was trying to tell her chemo wasn't really necccessary?
3. Anyone know of any other informative web sites other than those linked thru this one(acs)?
Thank You all for your opinions ,advice, and information. It is all greatly appreciated. Its important to make an informed decision.
May God bless all of you.

Posts: 292
Joined: Oct 2000

HI Diane, this is considered recurrence, but since she had a mastectomy with clear nodes then chemo really is not neccesary as it is not anywhere else in the body. they know this because of the clear nodes. If she is estrogen positive then Tamoxifen is a good idea. My aunt had a mastectomy 18 years ago with clear nodes, no adjuvent therapy, and is still cancer free. I think just going through chemo really is not necesary, of course that is up to her and her onco.go through some of our personal web pages and you will find lots of info in there, rather than us reiterating everything. Take care and lots of hugs to your mom.
Fight The Good Fight

mjdp2's picture
Posts: 142
Joined: Nov 2000

Hi Diane,
I am taking a quote from a book titled "Living Beyond Breast Cancer" by Dr. Marisa C. Wess amd Ellen Weiss. "When breast cancer develops in a completely separate part of the same breast or in the other breast, it is usually a new cancer, unrelated to the first. That is, it is not considered a reoccurrence, but another first occurrence". Your mom probably had these cells developing in her untreated breast six years ago. If these cells had come from her first cancer they would have had to have traveled from that breast thru her lymph and blood system all the way to the other side.. Since she had clear nodes this was not the case, hence her 2nd cancer is actually a new tumor. Since she must be estrogen receptor positive, the Tamoxifen should help her more than chemo.
Hope this helps. Without any treatment, I've been told that you can subtract your age of diagnosis from the number of years life expectancy and that gives you the percentage of your getting breast cancer again. If you are 50 and you get cancer and women are expected to live to 75 then your chances of getting cancer again if you do nothing is 25% by the time you reach 75. Blessings to You and your mom. Margaret

Posts: 262
Joined: Feb 2001

I was watching NOVA a few nights ago; and they reported that a tumor the size of a marble can give off millions of cancer cells that may not show up at all in nodes but float around in blood system and for unknown reasons;sometimes they attach themselves somewhere else and start growing again even years later--still the same cancer--that is why chemo of some type is needed even when nodes are clear; and if you are estrogen positive--why TAmoxifen helps kill these secretive little monsters before they can rehatch. Hopefully the body's own immune system will destroy them and that is why I am all for supplements that are antioxidents which aid immune system. It is a scarey thing--the more you learn sometimes! But we need all the facts to be able to make the best decisions. Thank God for all these discoveries so that may be a 'cure' is in our future. Blessings to all, Brenda

sueholm's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Oct 2000

diane: It sounds as if your mother has lobular carcinoma, which is the same kind I have...Lobular carcinoma, unlike ductal carcinoma, tends to arise "contralaterally" ie in the other breast. It is not metastasis but another original cancer site, so it is no "worse" than the first. If she has been prescribed tamoxifen that is because the tumour, is estrogen receptive...in other words the tumour thrives on estrogen. tamoxifen is an estrogen inhibitor and is very good taken over five years. I had chemo, and if the statistic of 7% is right, then I would still want it, becasue that is a significant amount...of my life! Try Web MD and Oncology.com, but also just go find on breast cancer to find many many sites and papers on breast cancer. I hope this is some help. Love susan

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

hi Mi,
I am forth year survivor and understand what it must be like getting info second hand. Hard enough having to get it first hand. I speak from experience in a province in Canada that has the highest success rate of our country, Canada. I had moved just 6 months prior to diagnosis with a teenage son. There are stats out now that almost suggest that all tumors are removed and chem and radiation together are an important attach. I was no candidate for tamoxifan, my cancer was not receptive to it. I have found through experience those woment older than 50 seem to have a less agressive form than those that are my age or younger, under 40, this does make a difference in the treatments. All Cancers are different for each individual and we must all remember that.
Good Luck to you both,

Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2000

Hi Diane:

Yes I believe this would be considered a recurrence. It is the same cancer she had before. I just finished chemo for a breast recurrence.

I agree you should seek other info or other medical opinions. That does not sound right about chemo adding another 7%. However, this would probably depend on at what stage the cancer is. See if you can make an appointment to talk to the doctor without your mother being there and ask him really what is going on.

For other informational sites try:


lenora's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2001

I had breast cancer at age 34. I subsequently under went chemo and radiation. The doctors told me, and I had great doctors, that radiation was necessary while chemo was recomended. Radiation was necessary because I only had a lumpectomy. I had the chemo because of my age. The doctors wanted to be absolutely certain they had taken every precaution because I still had children to raise. If I discovered that I had Cancer again at the age of 37, I would probably do the Chemo all over again. If I were well into my sixties, I would not. This is just my personal opinion, not scientific. Please keep that in mind. Chemo was tough. Even when you are young and strong and otherwise perfectly healthy. If the doctors don't consider it necessary and your mother doesn't want it, let her have the peace she will gain from your acceptance. At your mothers age, chemo would extreemly taxing. If the lymp nodes are all clear, and the doctors were able to remove all of the cancer, chances are she will be fine. God bless you and your mom as you endure this difficult time.
My advice to you and your mom.
Pray a lot.
Find doctors you can trust.
Listen to your doctors.
And live ever day you are alive.

Good luck,

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