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Thread: Treatment for early stage bc

  1. #1

    Treatment for early stage bc

    There still seems to be a misunderstanding among women on breast cancer sites about chemotherapy for early stage bc. Some women in these stages may benefit from chemo. However, there are some women in the early stages whose cancer characteristics do not indicate the need for chemo, but they are so worried about cancer that they want to "throw everything at cancer" that they can.

    I'd encourage anyone with early stage bc who is considering chemotherapy to listen to the taped discussion of Musa Mayer on a recent NPR Fresh Aire radio program.

    AlaskaAngel
    Dx Dec 2001 at age 50
    Lumpectomy Jan 2002, 1.6 cm IDC plus some DCIS
    Node neg
    ER+, PR+, HER2+++
    CAF x 6, 35 rads+boost, 1 3/4 yr tamoxifen,
    No taxane, no trastuzumab, no aromatase inhibitor
    NED
    Tamoxfen 1 3/4 yrs
    In 2 clinical trials
    bc for mom and 1 sis and 1 aunt and 1 granny
    ovarian cancer for 1 aunt

  2. #2
    What do you know about these drugs? Have any of you taken any of these drugs?

    http://www.professionalbreastcancerresource.com/

  3. #3
    Hi,
    I'm going to give my opinion on one and info on the other.......a double ramble...... lol

    I wasn't dx with early stage BC, mine was advanced. I don't know who or what this radio show is you're talking about, but I would suggest anyone who has been told by their oncologist to have chemo, to ask the onco questions vs a radio show. He knows risk factors as far as er/pr and Her2Neu, how aggressive etc. I've always heard that ladies with early stage BC are told how much it would help with their odds of not having a reoccurence and I think they need to base it on that and if they have confidence in their onco, his opinion also. There of course is no guarentee for any of us, but some would rather go through chemo even if it's only a 5% benefit of avoiding a reoccurence and do everything the 1st time around, then regret not doing everything possible the 1st time around. It definately has to be what the person thinks is best for them and a decision they have to live with.

    As far as the link and the drugs. I take Arimidex. The drugs on that page are for ladies who's cancer feeds on estrogen and/or progesterine which of course are hormones. It's something that we can use to help prevent a reoccurence.
    Nancy
    2/14/02 ILC 43 - 5.5 cm 9+/16 nodes
    Stage IIIA er/pr+ Her2-
    2/02 MRM
    FECx6 radsx33
    Tamoxifen - Arimidex (chemo induced menopause)
    4/03 SM w/bilat. recon.
    9/03 expanders removed
    5/04 repair reconst. disaster
    10/04 Actonel for bone/joint pain from Arimidex
    NED - 5 years
    3/07 Diabetes
    In memory of Kim 12/1/04

  4. #4
    I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer so chemo was an obvious choice. However, I've met so many women through support groups and friends of friends who had early stage breast cancer and then had a reoccurance and some ended up mestasticizing. Sounds like it's a big crap shoot.
    Age 37
    dx 1/31/05
    IDC 8cm
    nodes+, #?
    Grade 3
    ER/PR-/Her-2-
    miscarriage 13 wks
    chemo 2/22/05 TAC, every 3 wks
    masectomy planned after chemo

  5. #5
    There's no doubt this is a crap shoot. I've seen Stage I ladies that took Tamoxifen and nothing else and have distant mets. A lot of the ladies in probably the last year seem to be opting for 4 rounds of A/C to have the best chance possible. All the studies and stats that are out for different stages include all ages from 20-100, it doesn't matter if er/pr+ or what their Her2Neu status is, so they lump all of us into one group depending on Stage, which obviously can't be accurate, but it's all they have to base anything on. When I asked about having a simple mastectomy on the non cancerous breast, I was told it would increase my chances some since Lobular tends to mirror itself and for me, "some" made my mind up for me. Others choose to do as little as possible to avoid the side affects and possible risks, which for them, they have made the right decision for themselves. I guess all we can do is find an onco we have faith in, ask questions and do what we feel is the right thing for us.
    Nancy
    2/14/02 ILC 43 - 5.5 cm 9+/16 nodes
    Stage IIIA er/pr+ Her2-
    2/02 MRM
    FECx6 radsx33
    Tamoxifen - Arimidex (chemo induced menopause)
    4/03 SM w/bilat. recon.
    9/03 expanders removed
    5/04 repair reconst. disaster
    10/04 Actonel for bone/joint pain from Arimidex
    NED - 5 years
    3/07 Diabetes
    In memory of Kim 12/1/04

  6. #6
    Experienced User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    79
    Being diagnosed with early stage bc is just as difficult in making all the right decisions for yourself. I was first diagnosed stageI , lumpectomy and then radiation.Sounds pretty simple....But had first surgery, found out after that had positive node and tumor was bigger than originally thought, Then needed second surgery for axillary node disection and more tumor removal. Final path report states stage II bc. Now protocol is to have chemo, 4 AC and 4 Taxol, dose dense, followed by radiation, then tamoxifen. I guess what I'm trying to say is you have to get all the facts and info you can in order to make the right decisions NOW, you can't wait to see if something different comes along. I need to know that if any microcalcifications(cancer cells) are attaching somewhere else in my body that we can do something to stop them from growing. That is why I chose to go with chemo. I have only had 1 treatment so far and I say it was not easy but these bad cells will not be allowed to grow in me!!!
    So do what is right for YOU and feel good about it.
    God bless and be well.
    Jill
    Dx 3-17-05,breast cancer
    40 yrs young, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, 2.5cm
    ER+/PR+, Her-2/neu Negative, Grade and Stage 2
    1 Sentinel node pos. 17 neg., chemo AC/Taxol ,
    rad.tx

  7. #7
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    11

    stages for BC

    Hi Everyone, I believe that staging is important for planning out your best plan of treatment and choicing what you feel is best for your body. We are all different at this stage of the dis-ease. But after this is done, the staging just does not matter any more. We are all equally in this together and we can drive ourselves nuts going over statistics. Trust me I have but it is not worth wasting time what ifs,and should ofs dont matter. I just finished my rad. treatment 3 weeks ago and it is a done deal. This was the hardest journey of my life but has also been a learning one. I am grateful for all the caring, wonderful people and changes in my life that occured during treatment. A must read book is Return to Wholeness by David Simon, MD, forward by my favorite author Deepak Chorpra. It is geared to people facing cancer. lol Susan
    Diagnosed Sept 23 Lumpectomy on Oct 4 2004, stage IIA 2 1/2 cm node negative, grade 3 completed 4 rounds A/C 4 TAXOL dose dense, now on second week of radiation need 35

  8. #8
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    27
    I agree, it is so tempting to read the statistics and let your mind play "games' with you. I was diagnosed T1a with a very aggressive cancer but because I opted for a bilateral and I was ER/PR negative but Her2 3+ my oncologist didn't recommend any treatment. She said Herceptin has cardiovascular side effects and the risk / benefit ratio wasn't worth it. While I know statistically my chance of recurrence is slim I still wonder and worry. I don't dwell on it but the what if's do cross my mind. I don't really talk to my family about my thoughts. I want to "let go' and move on but maybe it's too soon. Once I hit the one year mark maybe it will become easier to feel like a survivor. I feel so blessed to have caught the cancer early ... how can I complain when there are so many women out there who are deep in the battle with this disease. It breaks my heart to see so many young women fighting that battle.

    Prayers for health and peace to you all.
    Madge
    61-years young
    Dx - 7/04
    Bilateral Mastectomy (skin sparing) 8/19/04
    Negative nodes
    Micro-invasive DCIS, DCIS, LCIS
    Stage T1a
    ER/PR -
    Her2 3+
    No chemo, no radiation
    Waiting for reconstruction

  9. #9

    Early stage bc and chemo

    Thanks Susan for the book recommendation - I've added it to my list.

    As a society we want to put out the money and take medicine as the complete answer to a problem that is not that simple. However, when it comes to chemotherapy the medicine is not relatively harmless.

    There is a rough "breaking point" for those with early stage bc where chemotherapy is considered to be more likely to be harmful than helpful.

    What I have seen in many forums is an emphasis by many women who do not understand this, in effect saying that it is better to do chemo no matter how early you are diagnosed. We are all tempted to go to extremes because we are afraid, and we all want to try to protect each other. But we should not be advising blanket use of chemotherapy, and in effect, try to scare the people in this group to choose it.

    These people might want to get more than one opinion from oncologists but in the end they do have a tough decision to make. In that sense it is difficult for them not to be intimidated into doing chemo, and not to endlessly wonder if they made a good decision.

    AlaskaAngel
    Dx Dec 2001 at age 50
    Lumpectomy Jan 2002, 1.6 cm IDC plus some DCIS
    Node neg
    ER+, PR+, HER2+++
    CAF x 6, 35 rads+boost, 1 3/4 yr tamoxifen,
    No taxane, no trastuzumab, no aromatase inhibitor
    NED
    Tamoxfen 1 3/4 yrs
    In 2 clinical trials
    bc for mom and 1 sis and 1 aunt and 1 granny
    ovarian cancer for 1 aunt

  10. #10
    Well, this is an "older" post, but I wanted to comment.

    I've met or heard about a number of women who have opted for chemo as a "preventive measure." I met a couple women who chose chemo, and they were both "node negative." I guess it's all a personal decision that must be made with your onco, and the facts of your particular case.

    I just wanted to share what my onco told me. She insisted that no worthwhile oncologist would recommend having chemo as a preventative measure when the nodes were negative and the tumor under 1cm. The reasons she gave were that chemo can cause leukemia (although the odds are obviously very low), or that it can mutate any escaped cancer cells into ones that are even harder to treat. She said that at some level, the overall health risks simply outweigh the small percentage of benefit I might achieve. But she said that there are health advocates that believe that - if you aren't suffering - you aren't doing enough to help yourself.

    But as I said, this is a very individual decision that must be made with your own doctor. I guess the leukemia risk really struck a chord with me. Twice in my life, I've had a medical condition that only strikes a tiny percentage of the population. I'm not naive enough to believe "that isn't going to happen to me!!" Instead of having preventive chemo (I was node negative and small tumor), I've chosen instead to take Tamoxifen, have my ovaries removed, observe a strict low fat diet, take every antioxidant vitamin & herb supplement known to man, and walk half-hour a day....and hope for the best. I will obviously have chemo if I need it.
    Yvonne
    age 50
    non-menopausal at dx, oovarectomy 7/18/05
    Right breast - DCIS, 0+/2 nodes, 5cm, int grade
    Left breast - IDC & Paget's of Nipple, tumor size .7mm, 0+/11 nodes, stage 1
    ER/PR pos, her2-
    Total Mastectomy 5/17/05 and 6/21/05
    NED

 

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