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Trying To Decide What Treatment Option to Take for Breast CancerO

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2002

I am 44 years old and was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Cancer in March of this year. To date I have had a lumpectomy. My tumor was 2.2 cm, stage 2, (but a grade 3 cancer in that was an agressive type.) It was also hormone receptor negative so I am not a candidate for Tamoxifen. However, nothing was found in the lymph nodes. My treatment options are:
1)if I have radiation alone, my chances of recurrence are 25-30%,
2)a 3 month course of AC, will reduce chances of recurrence by 1/3, or down to 17-20% chance of recurrence
3)a 6 month course of CAF, will only marginally reduce the chance of recurrence by another 1-2%. This is a twice a month treatment and they say it is much more toxic to the body overall.
4) a 3 month course of AC, followed by a 3 month course of Taxol, however there is no documentation to support that Taxol has any benefits in a node negative person such as myself.

I would greatly appreciate any advice from anyone who has had a similar experience as mine. I keep going back and forth in my mind and it has been 4 weeks now since my surgery and I need to be making this decision. Thank you for your help!

Posts: 166
Joined: Aug 2001

Hello, just wanted to share my own experience with you. I had a 2.5 cm tumor with calcifications(also cancerous) I had a mastectomy and one lymph node was positive. I had rapid growing cancer as well. My oncologist recommended 3 months of AC and I was given option of three more months of Taxol, but Taxol didn't have a great percentage of Nonreoccurrence,so I chose not to put my body through it, I heard it is very rough on the body. I had very bad time with chemo alone.I met with a radiologist and was told no radiation was needed , I am on Tamoxifen and Lupron for five years. I just pray that Cancer never returns and I know that I did what I needed to do to help.Best of Luck to you, we are here if you need us !! God Bless Karin

bullfrog13's picture
Posts: 216
Joined: Apr 2002

Dear Sherlynn
Well sounds like you have had a time of it.. as we all do.. just follow your heart and do research..ask lots of questions to your Dr and nurses... i will Tell you ONE Thing.. radiation is a walk in the park on a beautiful spring day compared to chemo.... and if you do opt for radiaition.. use the cream they give you ONLY AFTER treatment.. TRUST me!! i learned the HARD way..lol.. good luck.and God bless.. Jerilyn

Posts: 99
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi there,
I will share my experience with you. I am 37 and dxed in sept. 2001 with invasive ductal 2.2 cm tumor node neg. er/pr pos and her-2 pos. I did 6 rounds of ac, did 30 rads and am now doing 6 rounds of taxol. I know stat wise that with each of these it doesnt raise the percentage much, excpect for me raising even 1 percent is well worth it. I have 4 kids and I am going to be there to watch them grow up. I am healthy and strong and am willing to take on anything they will give me to ensure that. The ac was hard, the rads were a breeze and I am having absolutely no problems what so ever with the taxol. I have had 2 of the 6 rounds. Please feel free to email me anytime at nocarb1@yahoo.com I hope this helps!! Keep your head up and know you will beat this thing!! :):)

chas707's picture
Posts: 30
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi, I am 27, dxnd Feb this year. I had 1.5 cm node neg, but aggressive grade 3, ER/PR neg. I had bilateral mastectomy, recommended because my age, longer to live, greater chance for it coming back. I did 4 rounds of AC, finished 2 weeks ago, PTL. No radiation needed. Hope this helps...email me anytime I would be glad to share my experiences...chas707@bellsouth.net

Posts: 321
Joined: May 2002

Hi,tough to make a decision. I will tell you my story. My first diagnosis was in 1998, I was a young 54 year old. ADENOCARCINOMA, Stage 1,tumor 1.7cm, hormone receptor Negative. I chose mastectomy followed by 6 month of CAF chemo. No Radiation needed. Had Tram-Flap Reconstruction 1 yr later, all was fine.
In Feb. 2002 (now a young 58 yr old) having my routine mammogram, I was dx with DCIS in the other breast, very small only 5mm.Stage 1, Hormone receptor NEGATIVE and That is what bothers me. Stats don't mean much to me . As of now I had a lumpectomy, 6 weeks of radiation and presently chemo . I have had 2 treatments so far, this time CMF, as I am at the max for adriamycin. 2weeks in a row, 2weeks off. The radiation went well, chemo so so, but I have set my priorities and will focus better at my well being. Because of the Hormone receptor NEGATIVE I will do everything possible trying to beat this desease. This route was my decision and I feel comfortable with it. Chemo is no picnic but it is not for ever. Read as much as you can and decide , YOU have to be comfortable with your decision. Hope this helps, take care and keep us up to date.
Love Emmi

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001

The final report on the taxol study in November 2000 showed a slightly better benefit from taxol for the hormone receptor negative women. You can find this fact from Dr. Love's book or on the web.

Good Luck!

Posts: 706
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi Sherlynn:

I haven't visited for quite some time. In browsing tonight, I saw your post and wanted to take the time to respond.

We all know how you must feel at this point.
Every treatment option seems intimidating and scary. I'd suggest, as others have suggested, that you educate yourself as much as possible before making your final decisions. www.nci.nih.gov is a great, informative website for starters. You will find a wealth of reliable information there which may be helpful.

Re percentages/averages...don't count on them. Your particular body is unique!

My story is similar to your own. I had a one centimeter tumor. ER/PR negative. Strongly Her-2/neu and an aggressive little rascal. I had lumpectomy, followed by 4 cycles of AC and 37 radiation treatments. After 3 opinions, all recommending basically the same treatment, together with lengthy discussions with my surgeon and a lot of research, I made my choice and never looked back. The research was very helpful to me in being more secure with the choice I'd made. Hope it will be for yourself too.

Stay positive and take excellent care of yourself with a nourishing diet, plenty of rest and relaxation. Soon, your choice will be made and sooner than you'd imagine, you'll be through the treatments and your body and spirit can begin to heal and feel whole again. Trust me, none of this is easy, but we've all been exactly where you are now and understand how it feels.

You'll find that most of the ladies here are amazingly strong, positive individuals and can be relied upon for advice anytime about almost anything you could imagine. Before, during and after treatment. So, don't feel uncomfortable asking anything at all...someone here always has suggestions and encouragement to offer.

Love, light and laughter,

Posts: 270
Joined: Jul 2001

I was 42, had a 2.4 cm tumor - lumpectomy, aggressive cancer, no positive nodes. One difference is that I am estrogen positive. I followed the advise of my Oncologist which was 4 AC, 4 Taxotere (similar to Taxol), 7 weeks radiation. Now I take Tamoxifen for 5 years. My last radiation treatment was June 26, 2001 - I'm almost a 1 year survivor depending on what date you use. Anyway ... I did everything the Dr. would let me do ... but looking back I think I would skip the Taxotere if I knew better. It left me very achy and bloated. It took a good 8 months to feel better and for the minimal protectection that they aren't even sure of it wasn't worth it. Lumpectomy & radiation is easy ... deciding on the chemo is tough. If they could only tell if any stray cancer cells are in the body it would be a whole different ball game. Let us know what you decide. Good luck!! Jamie

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

Mine stage three dx at abe 36 and had positive nodes 11/21. I figured since I had a son that I had been sole supporter of needed his mother and decided that if doing treatments then I should get everything I could out of them, since cancer so agressive.
I think one has to enform themselves and do what they feel most comfortable with. As long as we realize there just aren't any gaurantees, but then there aren't any in life without cancer. I did the best I could for myself at the time, considering how ill I was. Must be more difficult to understand when you don't feel sick or anything when it comes to the cancer. I was sick and knew I had to do something.
We must think in the simplest of terms that is the best that we can do in such a situation. We truly are the ones that complicate everything.
Your close at heart and on my mind.
Be good to yourself,

Posts: 8
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi there, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and I'm also hormone receptor negative. I had a lumpectomy but my nodes were positive. I just finished 8 rounds of chemo over a six month period and will start radiation in the next couple of weeks. Chemo was in deed the hardest things I've ever gone through. Unlike some, it made me very ill. I had 4 sessions of A/C and 4 sessions of Taxol. Both were pretty bad but in different ways. I've been told that things are looking really good for me and that's always good news. Good luck in making your decision.

Posts: 75
Joined: Apr 2001

I read your post and all the responses and I would have to agree--each case is different and there are no guarantees. In the end, you have to be comfortable with your decision because the "what if's" can cause too much stress. I had a lumpectomy, 4 rounds of AC and 4 of Taxol, 36 rounds of radiation and I would take chemo again anyday over radiation but thru it all I knew that I had to do whatever it took to try and beat this thing. I am almost at three years since my surgery. Good luck with your decision but get as much info as you can not only about the treatments but also the facility that will be administering the treatment. Being treated like a human instead of a number is very important.
God Bless and keep us posted.

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2002

Hi Laverne!
Thanks so much for responding to my question. You are the first one to say they preferred the chemo over the radiation. Can you tell me why? Also were your nodes positive or negative for the spread?

Thanks, again. I do so appreciate the info!
And, CONGRATULATIONS on your 3 years!!

God Bless, YOU!

Posts: 75
Joined: Apr 2001

I had fourteen nodes removed and thirteen of them were cancerous. Chemo to me was tough but there was enough time in between sessions for your body to recover also there seemed to me more coping ability for chemo. Anti-nausea drugs and eating small meals etc. Radiation was every day and once I became burned and the skin started to peel away there was no relief. I tried Aquaphor,ALoe Vera, Vitamin E and even this prescription cream that they use on burn victims. Now, my case was very rare,(or so the radiation doctor tried to convince me) I developed something called radiation mastitis(not sure if that's the correct spelling)but basically it is a severe case of swelling in the radiated breast. I was always a large breasted women but having to buy a 52DDD bra just to accomodate the right breast knocked me for a loop. I still have some swelling and the doctor's have tried everything. They even considered hyperbaric oxygen treatments but the stats on that were not conclusive and I was not willing to give up two hours a day for six weeks and then still be in the same boat. I went out and bought some bigger bras(I know how much bigger can they get)and I have been able to get some relief but it just makes me mad when I hear doctor's and other people say radiation is a walk in the park. Believe me I have never been in any kind of park like that. But like I said before, each case is different. In hindsight I probably would have skipped the radiation because at least both of my breasts looked the same after chemo, I now have one that is brown and the other is black. It is really noticable but thank God only my husband and I have to see them on a daily basis. But anything to fight the disease is what you are willing to put your body thru. Good luck with your decision and please feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have I am more than happy to help.
God Bless,

Posts: 317
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi...I didn't have chemo, so the only thing I can offer is that my oncologist told me that the general guidelines now include the fact that if a treatment will not make at least a 3% difference in your chance of survival, they don't recommend it due to the side effects on the body. That would rule out the 6 month CAF. I will pray for you, and certainly wish you well. It would be so much easier for all of us if they would just say, "You have to do this." But, it's always your decision, and not a very easy one. Please let us know what you decide to do, and keep us posted on how you are getting along with the treatments. God bless...Cyndi

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