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All TopicsForum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After → Topic: radiation vs hormone therapy

Topic: radiation vs hormone therapy

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During and After — What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Feb 12, 2010 10:32AM

jandr wrote:

I have just had a lumpectomy and have a stage 1 cancer  I have been given information about radiation and hormone therapy. Can anyone help me in maing this choice. The side effects of the hormone therapy are scary to me   I have an appointment with the radioilogist next Thursday. All comments are appreciated.

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Feb 12, 2010 10:46AM GryffinSong wrote:

When I was first diagnosed they thought I was stage one. At that time I was offered a mastectomy or lumpectomy with radiation. It was my understanding that radiation went hand-in-hand with lumpectomy, in case there were micro thingies leftover. But as it turned out I was stage two with lymph node involvement, so I had to go the whole nine yards with mastectomy, chemo, rads and hormone therapy.

The decision will include whether you're pre or post menopause. I'm post menopause due to a hysterectomy about seven years ago and I'm not showing any side effects of tamoxifen, at least not that I've noticed. Pre menopausal women are more likely to have side effects.

When you see your radiologist, ask ANY question you can think of. I found mine was very helpful in understanding the pros and cons and in making my decision. You might even bring a friend or family member to help you absorb the choices and chime in if they think of something you've missed.

Whatever you decide, hugs and good luck!!!

bmx, no recon - December 16, 2008, AC/T, rads

Dx 11/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 3/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 12, 2010 08:04PM idaho wrote:

I to was scared of hormone therapy but decided that I would take tamoxifen and if I had any side effects I would stop.   I have been taking it 9 months and only side effects are a mild vaginal discharge and hot flashes.. I can live with that if it cuts my recurrance chances.   Wishing you peace and health .   Tami

There's no place like home......There's no place like home

Dx 2/1/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 14, 2010 05:13PM Raili wrote:

Welcome to the boards, jandr, but I'm sorry you have to be here!

I, too, have a stage 1 cancer and had a lumpectomy, and am now moving on to the oncologists.  My medical oncologist and my surgeon both explained to me that radiation and hormone therapy have separate purposes, and thus, I can't do one of those "instead of" the other, because it doesn't work that way.  The purpose of radiation is to kill any cancer cells that may still be lingering in your breast, whereas the purpose of hormone therapy, because I had an estrogen receptor positive tumor, would be to prevent the cancer from returning.  The hormone drugs act against the estrogen in the body, which the cancer cells had been using to grow.  My oncologist is recommending hormone therapy AND radiation.

Ask your doctors more about this.  Ask if they are recommending hormone therapy in addition to radiation, or giving you the choice of radiation or hormone therapy (I've never heard of this, though!).  I understand and share your fears about hormone therapy side effects.  My surgeon and oncologist have recommended the following so far:

1.  radiation OR mastectomy (they are apparently equal in terms of their benefits)

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2.  chemo OR ovary removal (again, these options are apparently equal)

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3.  hormone therapy in addition to an option from 2 and an option from 3

I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do.  None of the options are "good" - it's a matter of trying to determine which are the lesser of the evils.  Sometimes I want to take the surgical route, and remove my breasts and ovaries because I love and trust my surgeon way more than the radiologist and oncologist, and because it makes more sense to me to remove body parts that are not essential to life than to put negative/harmful things into my body.  Sometimes I want to choose radiation so that I can keep my breasts, because they're beautiful and I love them.  I'm pretty sure I'll refuse chemo no matter what.  I still go back and forth with myself about whether the benefits of hormone drugs would outweigh the negative effects, or vice versa.  So many decisions to make... it gets overwhelming.

Dx 11/2009, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-