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Topic: Can stress alone can give you BC

Forum: Share Your Experiences Of Life After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis —

Share your experiences of life after a breast cancer diagnosis and offer advice on how you cope with life's daily challenges, including how you develop a new daily/weekly routine while you deal with breast cancer.

Posted on: Jun 7, 2018 02:50AM

Dhanno wrote:

Hi my question is a bit stupid .I got diagnosed with IDC recently .I do look back to think what gave my BC .There is no family history of BC .I feel it is the constant stress in my life that fuelled my cancer . Do you think anxiety and stress alone can cause BC ?

Dx 5/20/2018, IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 1, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 7, 2018 04:58AM gb2115 wrote:

I don't know. I think it's more likely that stress could make it harder for your immune system to fight an existing cancer cell, allowing it to take hold. Our bodies fight off cancer cells regularly.

Just my theory.

Dx IDC in October 2016, stage 2A, 1.2 cm ER/PR+ Her2-, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes. Mammaprint low risk luminal A, Lumpectomy + radiation + tamoxifen. Age 38 at diagnosis.
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Jun 7, 2018 08:58AM ksusan wrote:

There's no research to support it. Most BC appears to be random (or environmental), at least at our current understanding of genetic factors.

Mutant uprising quashed. Dx 1/2015, IDC, Right, Stage IIA, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/2015, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy Whole-breast Chemotherapy Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jun 7, 2018 09:10AM Egads007 wrote:

Stress is a culprit in a lot of disease, as gb2115 said, it lowers our immune system. The only definite I've read is that damage to cellular DNA will cause it. Knowing an exact cause is difficult. A combination of our genes, bodies, lifestyle and the surrounding environment can play a part. I image stress added to the mix wouldn't be helpful. When I asked my MO this question, she replied "you have breasts, cancer happens". She also noted that she'd seen many a person taken down by stress. Personally, I revamped my QOL after diagnosis. I see it as imperative to be as stress free as possible.

"I base all my fashion choices on what doesn't itch" (Gilda Radner) Chemotherapy 3/20/2013 Doxil (doxorubicin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 8/23/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right Radiation Therapy 11/1/2013 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Dx IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Oct 12, 2019 08:40PM HopesFiercely wrote:

I do not think this is a stupid question. I have no known family history of bc. I grew up in a toxic family- narcissism, constant chaos, parent alienation syndrone, women viewed as not only worthless but also as 'the enemy'....... I learned to 'walk on eggshells' at a very young age. And have lived with a high level of stress most of my life while in a relationship with them. I eventually cut off contact with them. But I have wondered if the toxicity I have endured, especially as so much was directed toward me simply because I am female, may have been a contributing factor in my metastatic breast cancer.

Best advice I got was to stay positive and laugh often at the humorous things that happen in my journey. Dx 2/2018, IDC, Right, Stage IIIA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/2018, Stage IV, metastasized to brain Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy Verzenio Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy External: Brain Surgery Mastectomy: Right Radiation Therapy Chest wall Surgery
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Oct 12, 2019 10:06PM Meow13 wrote:

That is the only thing I can think of in my case. Unrelenting stress for prolonged period of time.

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Oct 13, 2019 04:26AM SondraF wrote:

I've wondered this too as I have spent the last ten years it seems in a state of high anxiety (career driven, mostly) and then stressful events (international move, finding new job, back injury), punctuated with two back to back spring periods of extremely high stress. I've always been very healthy and I think the stress just wore me down - kept me from my normal activities, learning new things, bouncing back and taking care of myself. I don't think it caused the cancer (no family history or other risk factors other than pretty dense breasts, even though I had half of them removed twenty years ago) but it really didn't help.

Dx 9/27/2019, IDC, Right, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- Targeted Therapy 11/28/2019 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 11/28/2019 Femara (letrozole), Zoladex (goserelin)
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Oct 13, 2019 06:40AM exbrnxgrl wrote:

Family history, meaning a verified genetic link, is responsible for a minority of breast cancer cases for currently known genetic mutations. That is to say, that the vast majority of breast cancers are not linked to any currently known genetic mutation.

As for stress, no, it’s not a good thing but almost all of us experience it over the course of a life time. To try to link bc to a specific period of stress in your life is anecdotal and without proof. As a matter of fact, stress or no stress, it seems that with what we currently know it’s impossible to say what caused our breast cancer*.

Please don’t spend too much time dwelling on this as chances are excellent that you will not find an answer since the causes of bc remain largely unknown.

*Except for the minority who do have verified genetic mutations.

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Oct 13, 2019 08:39AM Musosgirl wrote:

I have always felt five years of fighting PTSD led to my cancer. I don’t think stress itself causes it directly, but an intense period of stress can somehow trigger it. Maybe trigger a genetic on-switch, or like others have said, weaken the immune system enough to let the cancer take hold. Definitely on a mission to clear clutter, refocus my life, restructure our home life, and lower stress now.

Dx 6/2015, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 8/5/2015 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel), Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxol (paclitaxel), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 8/6/2015 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/6/2015 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 12/10/2015 Lumpectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 2/24/2016 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 5/23/2016 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Oct 13, 2019 11:12AM Meow13 wrote:

Again I am not talking about normal stress we all have from time to time.

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Oct 13, 2019 11:36AM TB90 wrote:

I work with a culture of people who have experienced generations of unrelenting stress. The vast majority of them have never had cancer. When we experience severe stress, it feels as though it should kill us and I am certain that it does a lot of harm. But it certainly does not appear to cause cancer. I do not believe we will ever find that simple of a cause. But better treatments for mental health should still be a priority.

Dx 11/28/2013, DCIS, Grade 2 Surgery 12/17/2013 Mastectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 2/19/2014 Breast
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Oct 13, 2019 12:12PM rozem wrote:

I think ( my opinion only) cancer is a perfect storm of genetics, cell mutations, Enviroment and yes stress. I don’t think stress causes cancer but I do feel that prolonged periods of intense stress lowers your immune system. And as others have said, may be part of the trigger

FEC-DH, LUMP, 25 RADS, TAMOX, BMSX with LD flap (worst surgery ever) Dx 8/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jun 12, 2020 02:41PM - edited Jun 12, 2020 02:44PM by KARW41

I can vote for the negative effect of stress. I just went through about 4 years of almost constant stress, job changes, mother got cancer a fourth time and just passed away of it, moved all around, with the only positive being able to attend grad school after work, and also recreation like hiking. I also recently read online that alcohol in particular is a causal factor and I never drank huge amounts but did consume it regularly overseas and in college, so I personally wonder if these two things contributed to it for me getting it at age 49. My mother had breast cancer three times, pancreatic once, but neither of us had the genes other than AXIN-2, which is indeterminate. I have a strong personal hunch stress (as my mother even told me before she died) contributed to mine. Oh, and realized, like the above post, I also have combat related PTSD. I vote for stress as a contributing factor for mine at least.

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Jun 12, 2020 04:24PM Peregrinelady wrote:

Yes, stress doesn’t help the immune system, but I still think genetics play a major role. I do wish I (and my pcp) had taken the fact that my twin had BC and my father had pancreatic cancer more seriously. They both passed from their cancers. I should have been on a close monitoring schedule and I even asked about it and she totally ignored my history. I even tried to excuse their cancers myself by blaming IVF for hers and alcohol for his when I should have been focused on prevention. I know they say that not that many cancers are genetic, but in my case I was told that mine most likely is, even though BRCA negative. I think there are many families like ours who just haven’t had their cancer genes identified.
Dx 4/24/2015, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 5/18/2015 Mastectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 6/1/2015 Liquid tamoxifen (Soltamox) Surgery 4/18/2016 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic ovary removal; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Hormonal Therapy 7/31/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 7/20/2020 Femara (letrozole)
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Jun 12, 2020 04:33PM trinigirl50 wrote:

I think if stress (even extremely high not normal stress) caused cancer there would be a lot more people with cancer.

I had stress free life, considered myself really lucky etc etc. I had (still have mainly) all the assets that contribute to an easy life and lo and behold I got cancer.

Me: slim athletic healthy eater great family friends support terrific job - what more can I say?

Stress didn't contribute to my breast cancer but cancer is now my permanent cause of stress.

trinigirl50 Dx 3/7/2015, ILC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIC, Grade 2, 20/24 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 3/7/2015 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Chemotherapy 4/14/2015 AC + T (Taxotere) Hormonal Therapy 9/14/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole), Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy 10/1/2015 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jun 12, 2020 05:00PM - edited Jun 12, 2020 05:03PM by buttonsmachine

I've noticed this can be a somewhat divisive topic. I think that's because the idea that bad things or people in our lives could have caused us to get cancer is a terrifying thought.

This is just my personal opinion and intuition. While I do agree that many breast cancers might be environmental or random, I think in some cases stress or emotional trauma might be responsible. If this is true, it is probably because prolonged extreme stress - not the normal everyday stress - changes the way the body functions and its ability to regulate itself on a very fundamental level.

Intuitively, I think this might be what happened to me. I had an extremely traumatic and stressful time before diagnosis, and I remember thinking to myself "It's amazing I can be under so much stress and it doesn't break my body." I think maybe it did break something after all.

Diagnosed at 32. Local recurrences in skin one year later due to needle seeding at initial biopsy. Dx 8/2016, IDC, Right, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/2017, IDC, Right, Grade 3, 2/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 12, 2020 05:03PM Sadiesservant wrote:

When I was first diagnosed I heard a doctor present on breast cancer. At that time he said, we know how to prevent breast cancer... live like a peasant. Start having children early and have lots. Clearly an overstatement but what he was getting at is that there is a very strong link between breast cancer and hormones. There are those that have postulated that the fact that in society we are now typically having very few children is driving up breast cancer rates. This would align with the findings that there is (I believe - it's been some times since I looked at the stats) a higher prevalence in developed countries.

When I was initially diagnosed I didn't feel the need to dwell on the "why". I also had no history of BC in my family but, in the years leading up to my diagnosis I was overweight (link to hormones) and I don't have any children (see above). Of course, I had also been exposed to carcinogens through my scientific research and ??? It's so hard to know. I'm sure stress doesn't help but... ultimately I felt knowing the "why" wouldn't change things.

Dx 4/2001, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER+ Surgery 5/10/2001 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 6/7/2001 CEF Radiation Therapy 12/17/2001 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/20/2001 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Hormonal Therapy 1/2/2007 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy 10/22/2007 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx 1/3/2017, IDC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/lungs, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/27/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel) Hormonal Therapy 3/28/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole) Targeted Therapy 4/20/2017 Ibrance (palbociclib) Dx 10/12/2017, IDC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to other Chemotherapy 10/20/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine) Radiation Therapy 11/15/2017 External: Bone Hormonal Therapy 1/18/2018 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Radiation Therapy 8/2/2018 External: Bone Radiation Therapy 11/5/2018 External: Bone Targeted Therapy 10/9/2019 Verzenio
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Jun 13, 2020 12:59PM MinusTwo wrote:

Sadie - thanks heavens for your comment - the WHY isn't critical. None of you CAUSED your cancer. Yes, you might have aggravated it with stress or alcohol or not breast feeding or wearing red sweaters or flying on an airplane before age 6 or playing in the traffic. But none of us CAUSED our cancers. It's NOT your fault. It's really important not to do blame yourselves and overdose on guilt. Which caused even MORE stress. It is really important to move forward and look for positive things.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Sep 13, 2020 10:47AM Mountainlover wrote:

I agree we should not blame ourselves.

But, like others, I have also been wondering about the triggers in my case and the timing of the disease.

As much as my MO didn't seem too fussed about diet when I first met him, he was quite inquisitive about the level of stress in my job which I found interesting. When I informed him of my decision to cut my working hours he stated this was "a very good idea" so I assumed he considered stress to be a contributing factor.

Dx at 47 Dx 6/10/2020, DCIS, Left, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/10/2020, IDC: Tubular, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/14/2020 Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy 7/24/2020 Femara (letrozole)
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Sep 13, 2020 11:14AM MelissaDallas wrote:

Anyone over twenty or so has major stressors in their lives. We’d all have cancer if stress caused it

LCIS, extensive sclerosing adenosis, TAH/BSO & partial omentectomy for mucinous borderline ovarian tumor.
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Sep 13, 2020 12:04PM December11 wrote:

I think I was very stressed the 13 months before I found my lump.

https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1679-45082015000300352

Dx 12/11/2019, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 1/2/2020 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2020 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 1/2/2020 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 5/18/2020 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 7/12/2020
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Sep 13, 2020 12:35PM buttonsmachine wrote:

I think it's not as simple as "stress then cancer," but I do think that extreme stress over a prolonged period of time can disrupt the balance in our bodies and possibly contribute to cancer. I think that might have happened to me. Stress is a factor in many diseases, and I don't see why it would not also be a factor in cancer. But that is just my opinion.

However, there are many other causes for cancer too, and we must never blame ourselves.

Diagnosed at 32. Local recurrences in skin one year later due to needle seeding at initial biopsy. Dx 8/2016, IDC, Right, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/2017, IDC, Right, Grade 3, 2/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 13, 2020 05:13PM - edited Sep 14, 2020 08:11AM by exbrnxgrl

Many of you have made insightful comments. I think it's human nature to want to find the cause behind most occurrences. But the truth with bc is that beyond the small percentage of patients with known genetic risks and a few other contributing factors ( but not causative factors) the answer is no one knows. Dwelling on why/how we got bc will be an exercise in futility for most of us. Deciding on your own that stress was a major contributor is purely anecdotal and, as many have said, if that trust were the case there'd be a lot more cancer out there.

On the genetic note, an earlier poster mentioned that despite many family members with cancer, she is BRCA negative. Please be aware that genetic testing has gone far beyond BRCA. They can now test for over 30 gene mutations that can be related to bc. My testing was called the Ambry panel, but there are other companies besides Ambry that offer similar testing. As for me, all genetic tests have been negative despite several family members with cancer. The only reason I would like to know what caused my bc is to help others. I already have it, so personally, spending any time unraveling its origin is pointless

Bilateral mx 9/7/11 with one step ns reconstruction. As of 11/21/11, 2cm met to upper left femur Dx 7/8/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/7/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 11/2011, IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 11/21/2011 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 11/21/2011 Bone Hormonal Therapy 6/19/2014 Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane)
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Sep 13, 2020 07:06PM 2019whatayear wrote:

to the original question. No anxiety and stress alone do not cause cancer. If it did it would be very easy to see in research a commonality between stress/anxiety and cancer. Now if you google stress and cancer you will see a ton of links saying cancer is due to stress and many of those links will have something to sell.

IDC 2 cm micromets 1 node 8 more removed. BMX 6/24, A/C then Taxol 7/25, 25 rads 1/6/2020 No reconstruction BRCA2 - BSO 2/19 all clear/ starting AI on 3/1/2020

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