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Thread: Can breast cancer be cured sometimes or not???

  1. #1
    Liza
    Guest

    Can breast cancer be cured sometimes or not???

    OK, now I'm alarmed! I just read someone's post that breast cancer can NEVER be cured!! I'm a 53 yr old woman, newly diagnosed. I had a 1 cm lump removed (from upper outer quadrant of left breast) for biopsy 10/22, and found out on 10/28 that it was IDC, with 15% of the 1 cm lump still being DCIS. The 3 mm margins were clear. It's grade III (8, not 9), ER/PR+, aneuploid, and Her2/neu borderline (FISH is being done...don't have results yet). My PET scan was clear. I have wide excision and SNB scheduled for 11/22, and if the breast tissue is clean, I'll have chemo, then rads, then I assume Tamoxifen or Arimidex (haven't talked to oncologist since we found out it's ER/PR+). If the breast tissue isn't clear, my surgeon will do a mastectomy. My surgeon is listed with Best Doctors in America, and my oncologist is one she recommended and has an excellent reputation and credentials. I'm also going to Moffitt in Tampa for 2nd opinion and treatment recommendation. My gynecologist told me I have a 90-95% chance (I assume she meant for a cure) and my oncologist told me 85-95% (at that time, he thought I'd be ER/PR- because of my age), and that he'd expect to see me at his retirement party 15 yrs down the road. I know this isn't child's play, but what about long-term BC survivors we all know about? I mean, if you're alive 45 years later with no recurrence, isn't that a cure???

    Also, I've been told by my docs, and read on BC websites and in Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book that survival rates are the same for lumpectomy w/ rads (if you're a candidate for that) or mastectomy. My oncologist's nurse practitioner reassured me that since it appears right now that I am a candidate for lumpectomy w/ rads, that it's purely a personal choice on my part and will NOT affect my chance for survival. Can I feel reassured that that's the case? I have read about a lot of women opting for mastectomy when they could've had lumpectomies and rads, according to what they said their docs said, because they were nervous about recurrence. I'd prefer lumpectomy and rads, but dread the thought of recurrence in the remaining breast tissue down the road (although I've read that even with mastectomy, you can have recurrence in the scar...not common, but possible)...and what about the other breast? I don't want to have a bilateral mastectomy unnecessarily just out of fear, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to give myself the best odds too.

    AND I haven't educated myself yet about rads (haven't had time yet) but I've read some women's posts about their dread of it. Yet I've known people who've had rads (for other cancers, like lymphoma) and they said it wasn't bad at all. Is it something to be dreaded?

    After being terrified out of my mind for 10 days, I've had a couple of relatively good, hopeful days. Now I'm running scared again. Help!

  2. #2
    Top User
    Join Date
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    Hello

    You can be absolutely reassured that breast cancer can be cured, certainly in early stages. Your chance of cure are high, as described by your physicians.

    regards,
    Leo
    Leonardo F - Webmaster Cancer Forums
    Disclaimer: this information is for informational purposes only. It is not medical advice.

  3. #3
    MuttsMom
    Guest
    Leo,
    I'm confused now.....nothing new I know I was told there was no cure for BC because there is no way to know if every cancer cell was gotten by chemo and that it just takes one to start mutating. I know that women can live to be little old ladies, but that black cloud is still hanging over their head that it might come back. know mine wasn't caught early since the mammogram missed my 5.5 cm tumor when I found it and that I'm high risk but doing good almost 3 years later. How do we know is the chemo and/or radiation got it all? I have so much radiation damage, I don't know how anything could still be alive there, but I'm wondering about cells in the blood stream that could have hidden out from chemo.
    Thanks for any info
    Nancy

  4. #4
    Top User
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    Nancy,

    This is a huge area in research. Unfortunately there is currently no way of knowing whether therapy has eradicated all cells. I would really love to have such a test, and tell my patients that everything is gone and that they do not need any further follow-up. Unfortunately cancer patients will always have some doubt that it might come back to haunt them...

    regards,
    Leo
    Leonardo F - Webmaster Cancer Forums
    Disclaimer: this information is for informational purposes only. It is not medical advice.

  5. #5
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    162
    Hi,

    I will share my own experience. After I finished ALL my treatments, (it was my last day of rads) I asked my radiation oncologist at the check-up if I was "cured" or in "remission." These are his words: "We cannot say cured. We HOPE you are cured, but we say NED (no evidence of disease) because it is possible for breast cancer to come back for the rest of your life."

    Now, this does not mean that it will come back. Some women end up cured....they're just not sure which women will be cured for the reasons Muttsmom said....there COULD be microscopic cells lurking or dormant somewhere in the body. My oncolgist told me there is no test to determine this. If there were, lots of women would be spared treatments that they did not need. They are hoping that the chemo kills any possible renegade cancer cells in the body.

    But most women are cured. I think the number is around 80 percent. It's just hard to determine who will be in those numbers. Of course, the best place to be is stage 0. But I believe optimism should rule. I decided to see myself as in that 80 percent.

    Hugs,

    Margie

  6. #6
    LB
    Guest

    Cure.....Hmmmmmm

    Interesting thread to be sure....Cure...what cure?

    Let me see...the guidelines are usually "5" years statistically, but what if the bc has already planted itself in another area of the body after that point marker? And, let me see..we need to lop off our breasts; undergo poison toxic chemicals; and or burn our bodies. What has happened to all those millions and I mean millions of dollars that have been pouring into research and such, and here we are still using the same ole treatments and NOT guaranteed a reccurrance will happen.

    I had cancer in both breasts; high histologic grade tumor, vascular invasion; almost guaranteed that I will have a reoccurance in time.

    There is no cure, ladies.

  7. #7
    Top User
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    Hello

    Unfortunately the answers to cure cancer are not simple at all. All the millions of dollars are working, as reflected by a signifficant increase in survival rates in most cancers. In the specific area of breast cancer, look at all the different molecular markers that were discovered and targeted: ER/PR, HER2 are just examples of what is to come. The request to cure cancer seems so simple, to eradicate a few cells that are not working well, but it sometimes feels just like digging deeper and deeper and things look more complicated. Believe it or not, there are not nearly enough people to conduct enough research in this field, given the enormous complexity of it.

    Like I said, if I had that magic bullet to tell which of you will remain cancer free I would be extremely happy, but it's just not possible right now...

    regards,
    Leo
    Leonardo F - Webmaster Cancer Forums
    Disclaimer: this information is for informational purposes only. It is not medical advice.

  8. #8
    Bree
    Guest
    Hi there, I'm a survivor and I'm de-lurking to share some info.....

    A doctor in Germany has developed a bone marrow test that indicates if there are disseminated dormant cancer cells floating around in the body subsequent to treatment. There was a clinical study done last summer, I have not received any information on it. Here are some exerpts from my correspondence with the doctor, from a year ago:

    "I could only offer you that we check your bone marrow for disseminated cells, and if you can send slides to us where we detect disseminated cancer cells we might be able to check the "activity" of your potentially present but latent disease. My colleagues have clinical experience with antibody therapies against disseminated cancer cells. They might have an advice with regard to the therapeutic options.

    If you are willing to bear a bone marrow aspiration, your oncologist would need to isolate mononuclear cells by Ficoll density gradient centrifugation and prepare slides that could be shipped to us (we would provide special slides and a protocol). Alternatively, I received one year ago a mail from a German collegue in Seattle who is studying single disseminated cancer cells in prostate cancer. His group should be able to perform all steps required, from bone marrow aspiration to slide preparation (although he would need to use our special slides as well; we need those slides to isolate the tumor cells later on). I do not know whether other groups in the Seattle work on breast cancer.

    The second possibility would be to check for the activity of your disease using blood samples. Detection rates of tumor cells are lower than in bone marrow but they can be easily obtained. 20ml of peripheral blood seem to be efficient to detect at least in some patients active disease. Perhaps this approach might be more convenient for the moment, although I have to admit, that we know less about tumor cells in the peripheral blood than in bone marrow."


    Regarding "The Cure", a number of issues arise, business and political to name just two. If you haven't read the book on how Herceptin was developed, (sorry I forget the name right now) read it. You will gain a clear understanding of the politics and personal agendas involved in research. I suspect these issues are common throughout breast cancer research and unfortunately we the 'end users' are greatly affected.

    As for the bone marrow aspiration, well I haven't done it... yet. I have been NED for 8 1/2 years and 4 years (a primary on each side) and have been poked, prodded, sliced, diced, squished and nuked enough for the time being....lol

    For those of you waiting for results, newly diagnosed or in treatment {{{Hugs}}}. Hang in there, once you finish treatment you'll find your "new" normal. I'm here to tell you that life can be good again, you can feel well and happy again, it just doesn't happen as fast as we'd like it to.

    Cheers,
    Bree

  9. #9
    MNlady13
    Guest
    Indeed this is an interesting thread. Liza, I was diagnosed in April 1996. Yes, 1996. I had a 6 mm tumor in my left breast (about 3 o'clock). I had lumpectomy, radiation and took tamoxifen for five years. No chemo. Well, it has been 8 1/2 years. Do I think I am cured? I sure hope so. Do I assume that cancer will never return. No way. I see my onc. annually (and right now I am five months late ), have a mammogram annually and do monthly BSEs. In the meantime, I remain NED and just take it one day at a time. Good luck to you. Lauri

  10. #10
    Liza
    Guest

    Still have questions...

    Thanks so much to all of you for your input re:cure. I'd welcome more responses to that issue.
    I would so much appreciate responses to the other two issues in my original post as well (re: lumpectomy and rads vs mastectomy, and why the fear around rads?)
    Thanks everybody!!

 

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