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Feb 15, 2010 12:13AM
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)
2. chemo OR ovary removal (again, these options are apparently equal)
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.
11/2009, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-