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Chemo or no chemo

bah9171 Member Posts: 2

Hi, I have breast cancer. My oncologist says I have a 7% chance of recurrence within 10 years without chemo and 3% chance of recurrence with chemo. What do you think


  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,945

    You'll need to supply a lot more information before anyone can help you. What kind of breast cancer? ER/PR + or -? What's the HER2 status? How big is it? Have you had surgery? If so, was there any node involvement? Is what your doctor said based on your Oncotype score? What was that score? Sorry to grill you, but it's not one size fits all, as I'm sure you know if you're far enough in to have an oncologist.

  • bah9171
    bah9171 Member Posts: 2

    Estrogen- positive, progesterone-negative, Her2-negative. Had a lumpectomy, 7mm, clear margins, not in the lymph nodes, age 69. Oncotype was 33.

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293

    So one thing you need to be clear about is recurrence on its own is kind of a loosy goosy word. Local recurrence in the breast is potentially curable. Metastatic recurrence (recurrence in another location of the body - ie spread to lung liver etc) is not curable.

    you had a small cancer but otoh, an oncotype of 33: "Patients with Recurrence Score results 26–100 as a group derive a substantial absolute benefit from the addition of chemotherapy to endocrine therapy"

    Some things you may want to think about: how risk averse are you? How long were you expecting to live before being diagnosed with cancer? Do you have significant comborbidities? Do you expect to be able to tolerate the side effects of hormone therapy (which will be prescribed since you're ER+)

    Also, I'd just say that if you're unfamiliar with chemo, it's probably easier than you imagine. It's nothing like on tv, chemo pts sometimes work full time through treatment, most of us are active & doing things. So it's a few months of treatment & having to take it easy, taking some extra meds, dealing with side effects but for most of us, it's not horrific, kwim?

    And what would you regret more: having adverse effects from chemo & feeling like you did it for nothing, or skipping it and then having a potentially incurable recurrence?

    I'm sorry you're here & having to make this decision; cancer sucks

  • katg
    katg Member Posts: 214

    I agree with those who posted. It is always your chose. They have target pills for some of us. I have BRCA2 that was found through genetic testing at the City of Hope in Duarte California. That and my 5cm tumor had me in chemo. My blood system said now after 12 rounds of 2 chemo drugs and 1 Red Devil of 4 chemo's. Dreadful? Not completely. I had Zofran i took 3 days a week with another med for nausea. No nausea. I did get constipation and that was not fun.

    Ultimately, I had to do it. A mastectomy on the tumor side was done in early Feb. Get those numbers that were spoken about. All the details. 7% and 3% is 4% yet is there any number such like the 33 provided that comes into play.

    The best part of chemo is when it is over. I would do it again if i needed to. Anything that research shows will help my case.

    Get the info to do what is right for you!

  • msphil
    msphil Member Posts: 185

    hello sweetie I had chemo 3 mo before and mo after Lmast. Diagnosed while planning our 2nd marriages. Praise God I am a 28 yr Survivor this yrs also your 28 th Wedding Anniversary. Hope this Inspires others going thru. msphil idc stage 2 0/3 nodes chemo 7 wks rads and 5 yrs on tamoxifen. Hope Positive thoughts.

  • mle42
    mle42 Member Posts: 124

    bah9171, I think the questions that Moth posed above are all really important to consider as you approach this decision. My oncotype score was 30 but I was absolutely going to do chemo because my personal situation is that I was diagnosed at age 40 and I'm looking at living another 40 years at least - so I needed to think about not just 10 year recurrence risk but 40 year recurrence risk. It's about combining your personal medical situation (both the details of your cancer and your overall health) and your personal approach to risk. As was noted above, would you rather regret doing chemo, or regret not doing chemo?

    I agree that chemo is not like it's portrayed on TV, I was not hanging over my toilet 24 hours a day, and it was not unrelenting horror. But I also don't want you to get the impression that it's always easy or no big deal. I was young and healthy and I found chemo to be really challenging. It was manageable, and I definitely had lots of good times throughout. However, while I know some people work full time throughout chemo, I couldn't have imagined doing that (I worked 1/2 time for the first 2/3 of chemo, then went on full time leave for the rest of it, and am incredibly grateful I had that option). I have a lot of people in my life who have been through chemo for breast cancer, and yes everyone "tolerated" it, made it through and were glad they chose that option, but I haven't met anyone who characterized it as "very little disruption." I'm happy to hear that those folks exist! Different people react to the same drugs in very different ways, so there really is no way to predict what your personal experience will be until you are in it.

    Wishing you lots of peace as you make this decision!