Factors That Affect The Risk Of Breast Cancer Recurrence Following A Mastectomy
Your individual risk for breast cancer recurrence after receiving a mastectomy will depend on several factors, including the type of breast cancer you have and whether it is affected by hormones, the size and location of your tumor, how quickly the cancer cells grew and the stage of cancer at the time of treatment. In particular, if breast cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, such as those in the underarm area, the likelihood of recurrence may be higher.
What Are Risk Factors For Breast Cancer Recurrence
Anyone with a breast cancer diagnosis can have a recurrence. Your risk of cancer recurrence depends on several factors:
- Age: Women who develop breast cancer before age 35 are more likely to get breast cancer again.
- Cancer stage: Cancer stage at the time of diagnosis correlates with the risk of the cancer being able to recur. Several factors determine cancer stage: tumor size, cancer grade and cancer spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Cancer grade indicates how unusual cancer cells look in comparison to healthy cells.
- Cancer type: Aggressive cancers like inflammatory breast cancer and triple-negative breast cancer are harder to treat. Theyre more likely to come back and spread.
Understanding The Risk Of Late Recurrence Of Breast Cancer
Even as a young child, Crystal Moore, MD, PhD, FCAP, knew she wanted to be a physician. For her, medicine is not just a profession but also a calling. She received her MD/PhD at the Medical College of Virginia. Her PhD was awarded by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. She completed her residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Duke University and is a board-certified fellow of the College of American Pathologists. Follow Dr. Moore at www.DrCrystalMoore.com and on Twitter .
An astonishing 15 years after her initial diagnosis and treatment, my mothers breast cancer unexpectedly recurred. Eventually, it claimed her life. As a daughter, I felt blindsided. But as a physician, I grew determined to help all people with breast cancer understand the risk of late recurrence.
From surgery and reconstruction to radiation therapy, chemotherapy, adjuvant hormone therapy, and follow-up doctor visits, the road back to health after a breast cancer diagnosis can be long and difficult to navigate. Patients anxiously await the day when theyll hear that seemingly magical word: remission.
Once there has been a diagnosis of breast cancer, the risk of a recurrence is never zero.
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How To Lower Your Risk Of Recurrence
There are things you can do to make it less likely that your breast cancer comes back. Some treatments and lifestyle choices have been shown to lower the risk.
Here are treatments that may lower your risk of recurrence:
- Bone-building drugs may cut your risk of cancer coming back in your bones.
- Chemotherapy. Research suggests people who have chemotherapy have a lower risk of recurrence.
- Hormone therapy. If you have receptor-positive breast cancer, hormone therapy after your first treatment may lower your risk of it coming back.
- Radiation therapy. Research suggests people who have radiation to treat inflammatory breast cancer or a large tumor have a lower risk of it returning.
- Targeted therapy. Drug treatments that target the protein HER2 may lower your risk if your cancer makes extra HER2 protein.
Lifestyle choices that help prevent a recurrence include:
- Eating healthy food like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Try to limit alcohol to no more than one drink a day.
- Getting regular exercise. Be active.
- Staying at a healthy weight
Treatment Type And Breast Cancer Survival
Overall survival is the same for lumpectomy plus radiation therapy and mastectomy. This means both treatments lower the risk of dying by the same amount.
For a summary of research studies on lumpectomy plus radiation therapy and mastectomy in the treatment of early breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research Studies section.
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How We Get Vitamin D
The vitamin D-making starts with the sun. Sunlight consists of a mixture of electromagnetic radiation energy of various wavelengths. Ultraviolet, or UV, radiation, consists of UVA, UVB, and UVC.
UVC get absorbed by the ozone in the atmosphere, so they never reach earth or human skin. UVA and most UVB reach the earths surface and have different effects on your body.
UVB rays stimulate the production of vitamin D
As much as one hundred times more UVA radiation reaches the earths surface than UVB. Even though UVA contains much less energy than UVB, its able to penetrate deeper into the layers of your skin.
UVB is the only form of UV radiation that stimulates the production of vitamin D. You should only get enough sun exposure to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. The goal is not to get a tan. UVB exposure is great as long as you never burn.
But doesn’t the sun cause skin cancer?
Can I Lower My Risk Of Breast Cancer Progressing Or Coming Back
If you have breast cancer, you probably want to know if there are things you can do that might lower your risk of the cancer growing or coming back, such as exercising, eating a certain type of diet, or taking nutritional supplements. Fortunately, breast cancer is one of the best studied types of cancer in this regard, and research has shown there are some things you can do that might be helpful.
Staying as healthy as possible is more important than ever after breast cancer treatment. Controlling your weight, keeping physically active, and eating right may help you lower your risk of your breast cancer coming back, as well as help protect you from other health problems.
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Keep Up With Your Health Screenings
After youâve finished your cancer treatments, you still need to go to your doctor for your follow-up screenings. Your health care team may meet with you every few months after your treatment. They do this so that they can keep a close eye on any changes that may show signs that your cancer has come back. After you reach 5 years since your last treatment, you may need to see your doctor only once a year.
If youâve had some of your breast removed as part of cancer treatment, you may need to get a mammogram, a scan that checks for breast cancer, every 6 to 12 months after treatment. You may need to continue the scans once a year after that. If you had both breasts removed, you may not need a mammogram.
Depending on the stage and type of cancer you had, the number of follow-ups may differ. Itâs important not to skip or miss your follow-ups as cancer is more likely to come back within 2 years after treatment.
During these visits, itâs a good time to ask your doctor any questions or concerns you may have about what to watch out for, treatment side-effects, or your overall health.
Locally Advanced Breast Cancer
If breast cancer has spread to the chest wall or skin of the breast, or the lymph nodes around the chest, neck and under the breast bone, but has not spread to other areas of the body, its called locally advanced breast cancer. Sometimes breast cancer is locally advanced when it is first diagnosed.
People who have locally advanced breast cancer are thought to have an increased risk of cancer cells spreading to other areas of the body, compared to those with stage 1 or 2 breast cancers.
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Check On Whether You Need Medications
After you complete your cancer treatment, if you have a high chance of your cancer returning, your doctor may prescribe you certain drugs to reduce your risk.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are two such drugs. These drugs are approved for use in the U.S. and doctors usually prescribe them to lower the chances of estrogen-related breast cancer. Both drugs block estrogen hormone in breast cells. Studies show that they reduce your chances of getting breast cancer again by about 40%.
Tamoxifen. You take this once a day by mouth as a pill or liquid. It may make it less likely for you to get cancer in parts of your breast that werenât affected earlier. You may have side effects like hot flashes, vaginal discharge, irregular periods, loss of sexual interest, memory loss, fatigue, and joint pain.
Raloxifene. Itâs a pill you take once a day. Itâs usually given to women who are post-menopausal — those who stopped having their periods. It may also help you avoid or treat osteoporosis, when your bone density thins, putting you at risk of fractures.
While rare, these drugs can also cause blood clots in your leg veins or lungs. This can be a serious side effect that may need immediate medical attention. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you think you have a blood clot.
Why You Shouldn’t Drink Sodas
Avoid drinking energy drinks, sodas, and caffeinated beverages and drink water instead. Caffeine can trigger stress responses that have strong diuretic effects.
Sodas contain a massive amount of sugar and awful chemicals. Diet soda is not better than regular soda. They contain aspartame instead of sugar.
Sodas are toxic and unhealthy
Aspartame is toxic and has many side effects including brain tumors and diabetes. High Fructose Corn Syrup is another sweetener common in sodas. It’s not better than sugar and is often genetically modified.
Avoid all these beverages and drink purified water to be on the safe side.
Buy a water filtration system to remove toxins from the waterDrink about 6-8 cups or more of water every day
Avoid drinking sodas, coffee, alcohol, and other toxic drinks
Exercising is another excellent way to prevent cancer from returning.
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Request An Appointment At Moffitt Cancer Center
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Eating A Healthy Diet
Most research on possible links between diet and the risk of breast cancer coming back has looked at broad dietary patterns, rather than specific foods. In general, its not clear if eating any specific type of diet can help lower your risk of breast cancer coming back. Studies have found that breast cancer survivors who eat diets high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, chicken, and fish tend to live longer than those who eat diets that have more refined sugars, fats, red meats , and processed meats . But its not clear if this is due to effects on breast cancer or possibly to other health benefits of eating a healthy diet.
Two large studies have looked at the effects of lowering fat intake after being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. One study found that women on a low-fat diet had a small reduction in the risk of cancer coming back, but these women had also lost weight as a result of their diet, which might have affected the results. The other study did not find a link between a diet low in fat and the risk of cancer coming back.
While the links between specific types of diets and breast cancer coming back are not certain, there are clearly health benefits to eating well. For example, diets that are rich in plant sources are often an important part of getting to and staying at a healthy weight. Eating a healthy diet can also help lower your risk for some other common health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
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Why You Should Detox Your Organs
The liver is the biggest detoxifier in the body. When there is a lot of toxins in the body, the liver encapsulates it in cholesterol.
It stores these toxins as gallstones to protect itself. But the problem is that these gallstones affect the livers ability to remove toxins. One way to remove these gallstones is to do the liver and gallbladder cleanse.
It is a cheap and easy method that you can do from the comfort of your home. If you follow the instructions to the letter, you shouldnt have any side effects. You also want to cleanse your kidney and colon so that toxins can leave the body easier.
Another way to remove toxins from the body is to cleanse your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is like your sewage system. It is a network that runs throughout your body.
Cancer often spreads to the lymphatic system because of the toxins there. Therefore keeping your lymphatic system clean is vital to avoiding cancer.
Remove any source of heavy metalsDetox from chemo and radiation
Cleanse your liver, colon, kidneys, and lymphatic system
One more way of staying healthy and avoiding cancer is to get enough sunshine.
Treatments For Regional Recurrences
Regional recurrence is when cancer reappears in the lymph nodes in the armpit or collarbone area near where the tumor was initially diagnosed.
Treatment options are much the same here as with local recurrence. It might help to note that, because local and regional breast cancer recurrences share many of the same characteristics, some medical practitioners use the term locoregional recurrence.
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Can You Have Breast Cancer Recurrence After A Mastectomy
A bilateral mastectomy, or surgical removal of both breasts, significantly reduces your chances of breast cancer relapse. However, there is still a minimal chance that residual breast tissue or cancer cells could recur on the chest wall.
If youve had a lateral mastectomy, in which only one breast is removed, you can still develop breast cancer in the opposite breast. An annual screening mammogram of the remaining breast is essential to screen for any abnormalities.
Its important to note that a mastectomy does not reduce your risk of getting cancer somewhere else in your body.
Risk Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Risk of breast cancer recurrence varies greatly from person to person and depends on:
- The biology of the tumor, including biomarkers
- The stage at the time of the original diagnosis
- Treatments for the original cancer
If you are diagnosed with a breast cancer recurrence, its not your fault. You did nothing to cause it.
Learn about treatment for distant breast cancer recurrence .
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Treatment For Breast Cancer Recurrence
If your care team thinks you might have a cancer recurrence, theyll recommend diagnostic tests, like lab tests, imaging or biopsies, both to be sure the cancer has come back and to get more information to guide your treatment.
Treatment options depend on where the cancer has recurred and what breast cancer treatment youve had before:
- Local recurrence is likely to be treated surgically first with a mastectomy if you didnt have one already or a surgical removal of the tumor if you did. After surgery, breast cancer chemotherapy and radiation are commonly used, as well as hormone therapy or targeted therapy if your kind of cancer will respond to one or both of them.
- Regional recurrence is also typically treated first with surgery to remove affected lymph nodes. After the surgery, youll likely have radiation and possibly chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy, too.
- Distant recurrence is mainly treated with drug therapychemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy for breast cancer or a combination of these. Breast cancer surgery and/or radiation might be used, too, but only in cases where the aim is relieving symptoms.
Lifestyle Changes After Breast Cancer
Lifestyle Changes after Breast Cancer Treatment: Conversations on Survival. A group of breast cancer survivors openly discuss what lifestyle changes were continued or changed after treatment. The importance of living in the moment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and knowing what is really important in life are all discussed.
1) Take care of yourself emotionally
- Put your needs first sometimes
- Attend a support group or find a breast cancer survivor you can talk with
- Stay informed about new breast cancer research
- Consider psychotherapy and/or antidepressants if warranted if youre taking tamoxifen, check with your oncologist to ensure the prescribed antidepressant does not interfere with your endocrine treatment
- Communicate with your doctor about fears or concerns
- Volunteer or become a breast cancer advocate
2) Take care of yourself physically
- Exercise regularly
- Report any physical changes to either your oncologist or primary care provider
- Seek treatment for lymphedema if you experience signs
3) Eat healthy
Research has shown that a diet high in fat and calories increases circulating estrogen in the blood. Consuming a low fat and low calorie diet after breast cancer can improve your overall health and wellness. Here are some dietary suggestions:
4) Reduce stress
5) Limit alcohol
6) Exercise regularly
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