About Breast Cancer Recurrence
During surgery to remove early-stage breast cancer, surgeons remove all the cancer they can see. In some cases, there may be individual cells circulating in the bloodstream or hiding in the bones or other places in the body. These cells may be inactive and not growing, or what doctors call dormant. But at some point in the future, the cells may start growing and cause a recurrence.
Doctors prescribe treatments after surgery such as hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies to destroy any cancer cells left behind and reduce the risk of recurrence.
The risk of recurrence is unique to each person diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and depends on a number of factors, including:
age at diagnosis
Doctors work very hard to estimate the risk of recurrence for each person. They use that estimate to tailor a treatment plan you can start after surgery to keep the risk of recurrence as low as it can be.
What Are The Complications Of Breast Cancer Recurrence
Breast cancer that comes back can be harder to treat. The same therapy isnt always effective again. Tumors can develop a tolerance to certain treatments like chemotherapy. Your healthcare provider will try other therapies. You may be able to try drugs under development in clinical trials.
If breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, your healthcare providers still treat it like breast cancer. For instance, breast cancer cells that move to the lungs cause breast cancer in the lungs not lung cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is more difficult to treat than cancer in only one part of the body.
You may feel stressed, depressed or anxious. A mental health counselor and support groups can help.
Stage 4 Still In Remission
This tread is still alive. Im sure you are scared about your diagnosis but I am stage 4 colon cancer that spread to my liver in 2010. I had surgery in June 2011 and have been blessed to be in remission since then. This June will be 6 years. I thank God everyday to have survived to live another day.
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What To Ask Your Doctor
Recurrent cancer and its prognosis, testing and treatment are complicated topics. Speak with your oncologist about any concerns you have to gain a better understanding about your cancer, its stage and available treatments. Ask how certain treatments may reduce tumors or control the cancers spreadand dont forget to inquire about their possible side effects. If youre interested in entering a clinical trial, your doctor may point you toward any that are enrolling patients.
You may consider trying integrative therapies to alleviate cancer symptoms. Let your doctor know which of these you want to pursue so he or she can determine whether they may interfere with your medical treatments.
You should also tell your doctor about any vitamins and supplements youre taking. Your oncologist may tell you to avoid certain products or treatments because they may not help or may be harmful.
When describing your prognosis, your doctor may use statistical terms, like those below, about estimating survival of cancer.
Why You May Need Treatment While In Remission
Because there are still cancer cells in your body even when youre in remission, you might have treatment during remission. This reduces the risk that the remaining cancer cells will start growing again.
Whether or not you have treatment during remission, youll be watched closely to make sure your cancer doesnt become active again.
The most common type of treatment during remission is maintenance chemotherapy. This is chemo thats given regularly to stop the cancer from spreading.
Maintenance therapy shouldnt make you feel worse. If you find that the side effects start to become too much for you, talk with your doctor. They may take you off maintenance therapy.
Maintenance therapy may also become less effective over time, in which case your doctor may stop the therapy to help make sure your cancer doesnt become resistant to chemo.
For some people, cancer remission can last a lifetime. Others may have their cancer come back, which is called a recurrence.
Types of cancer recurrence
- Local. The cancer comes back in the place it was originally found.
- Regional. The cancer comes back in lymph nodes and tissues near the original cancer site.
- Distant. The cancer comes back in other places throughout the body .
The chance of recurrence depends on many things, including the type of cancer you had, what stage the cancer was found in, and your overall health.
The outlook for the five most common types of cancers are:
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Cancer Isnt The Journey Remission Is
Crowe says she doesnt know very many women who would describe their treatment experience from hair loss to nausea to surgery scars as a journey. This word is frequently used to describe chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, but in the cancer community, its a loaded term.
But, now that Crowe is in remission, life does feel like a journey, because nothing is finite.
There are times when I feel well, and then there are times when I hold onto every precious moment as if it might be my last. Sometimes, I think of future, long-term projects that I want to complete, and there are also moments when Im scared and sad that I might lose my family because of cancer, she says.
Does Cancer Always Come Back
While cancer doesnt always return, recurrence is common for some hard-to-treat forms of cancer. These recurrences usually follow certain patterns that patients may be aware of in order to catch things as early as possible.
Theres no way to guarantee that cancer wont return. That said, recurrences are less likely the more time has passed from the original cancer.
Today, many cancers have treatments that may help manage the disease for the rest of a patients life. The likelihood of recurrence depends on:
- The type of cancer
- How fast it grew initially
- How advanced it was when doctors first discovered it
Cancer may be more likely to return if it had already spread when it was first detected.
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Can Some Patients With Breast Cancer Be Spared Chemotherapy
Some patients with postmenopausal breast cancer can avoid adjuvant chemotherapy The study results mean that thousands of women canbe spared the physical and financial toxicities of chemotherapy. In addition, the results provide more guidance to physicians as to which patients still need to receive chemotherapy, says the studys lead author
Keeping Personal Health Records
You and your doctor should work together to develop a personalized follow-up care plan. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your future physical or emotional health. ASCO offers forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan when treatment is completed.
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How Long You Can Live With Cancer
Cancer survival rates often use a five-year survival rate. That doesnt mean cancer cant recur beyond five years. Certain cancers can recur many years after first being found and treated. For some cancers, if it has not recurred by five years after initial diagnosis, the chance of a later recurrence is very small.
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Opinion: It’s Time To Win The Fight Against Breast Cancer
We can win the war against breast cancer. Ive learned this firsthand. This is my story of how I came to know we can win this war not only for myself but for all women.
I have dense breasts. Dense breasts are just like they sound dense. Cancer is also dense. The two are hard to tell apart on a mammogram. Because of this, my cancer was missed. By the time I experienced a heaviness in my breast, went in for a mammogram and cancer was detected, it was stage 4. That was 2018. It was likely missed since 2012.
The chance of experiencing one good day again, healthy and free, was one in 100. On that day, I promised I would fight for my life and for all others in my situation. I have kept my word.
Here is what Ive learned. My cancer was missed on mammograms because I have dense breasts. Over 40% of women have dense breasts. The risks associated with dense breasts were not discussed with me. Additional screening that could have caught the cancer early was not offered to me, nor did I know to ask for it, nor was it covered by insurance. These same conditions still exist in most states.
Just these few provisions alone will help ensure early detection and literally end thousands of breast cancer deaths every year. Wearing pink and carrying carnations, seeking passage of this law, I learned that once legislators learned the truth, they wanted to see this legislation pass. Without one change in the language, HB 371 passed with only two nay votes out of both chambers.
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How Can You Tell If Immunotherapy Is Working
How will you know the immunotherapy is working? You will have regular check-ups with your cancer specialist, blood tests and different types of scans to check whether the cancer has responded to treatment. It may take some time to know if immunotherapy has worked because some people have a delayed response.
How Could Someone Be A Breast Cancer Survivor At Diagnosis
Breast cancer needs time to grow. So, if a breast mass shows up on a mammogram or is detected during a monthly breast self-exam, you have already been living with it for some time.
A such, surviving this period of time is what prompts many people to consider diagnosis the point at which you can be called a breast cancer survivor.
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A Team To Support Her Cancer Treatment
When Carol was referred to RMCC after receiving her breast cancer diagnosis, the first step, as part of comprehensive cancer care, was a meeting with all the medical providers involved in her treatment, including her oncologist, Dr. Sami Diab, as well as her radiologist, surgeon, and several others.
Carol received chemotherapy and radiation and what she calls a relentless number of tests and monitoring: CAT scans, MRIs, and follow-up appointments every three months. Hence, the discovery of her other medical issues during the process of treating her cancer. Carol says an important lesson shes learned is to be your own advocate when it comes to your treatment.
But the most important lesson shes learned from this dizzying process is this: You have to have people you can trust.
Through this journey, Ive been blessed, she says. I made so many friends . Its allowed me to keep a good attitude. Those nurses at the cancer center, theyre godsent! Theyre the most wonderful, caring people.
Her praise is even more enthusiastic for her Physician Assistant, John Novak. Hes not only smart, he cares.
How To Reduce The Risk Of Cancer Recurrence
To reduce the risk of recurrence, your doctor may prescribe drugs that suppress either the production of estrogen or the stimulation of estrogen-sensitive cells. By doing so, there is less fuel to promote cancer recurrence. If you have estrogen-sensitive cancer, your doctor may prescribe tamoxifen, which binds to the estrogen receptors on cells.
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If You Decide Not To Have Treatment
If you decide not to have treatment, the doctor who knows your situation best is in the best position to discuss your prognosis.
Survival statistics most often come from studies that compare treatments with each other, rather than treatment with no treatment. So, it may not be easy for your doctor to give you an accurate prognosis.
Ten Lifestyle Changes That May Help
All breast cancer survivors live with the concern about a recurrence or a new cancer. This fear is usually the biggest worry of all. Many women feel that their body has betrayed them and therefore it takes time to trust it again.
Learning how to cope with fears of recurrence is important. Though your body has gone through many changes as a result of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, most women become healthy, strong and optimistic once again.
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Cancer Cure And All Clear
Many people who have cancer want to know if theyre cured. You may hear words like cure and all clear in the media.
Cured means theres no chance of the breast cancer coming back. However, its not possible to be sure that breast cancer will never come back. Treatment for breast cancer will be successful for most people, and the risk of recurrence gets less as time goes on. Recurrence, unfortunately, can happen even many years after treatment, so no one can say with certainty that youre definitely cured.
All clear, or in remission which is another term you may have heard used, means theres no obvious sign of cancer at the moment.
If your breast cancer has spread to other parts of your body this will affect your prognosis. Secondary breast cancer can be treated, sometimes for many years, but not cured. Find out more about secondary breast cancer.
In order to be as clear as possible, your treatment team is more likely to talk about your chances of survival over a period of time or the possibility of remaining free of breast cancer in the future.
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
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What Does This Mean For Me
If you have metastatic breast cancer, you will likely first receive a standard of care treatment. The study in this review is very early research. The safety and effectiveness of this treatment for a larger number of patients is not yet known. While this woman responded well and is now living with no evidence of disease , researchers do not know whether her response will be typical, if it will vary between patients, if it was a fluke, or if unintended side effects might occur. It may be some time before we understand who will respond best to this treatment.
This woman was part of an ongoing clinical trial to test this treatment. This trial is enrolling participants who have metastatic breast, ovarian, endometrial or other types of cancer. Patients in this study must have a tumor that can be safely removed. Patients must have tumors that are resistant to standard treatment. If this fits your situation, you may want to consider participating in this trial or in a related study. More information on eligibility for this trial can be found here, or for other trials for metastatic breast cancer at the following link. You can search for open trials with our clinical trial research tool or through ClinicalTrials.gov.
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Case : Complete Remission Of Stage Iv Melanoma With Ip6 Food Supplement
Inositol hexaphosphate plus inositol induced complete remission in stage IV melanoma: a case report
A case report from Department of Hematology/Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida, USA: a 59-year-old male with metastatic melanoma declined traditional therapy and opted to try over the counter supplement IP6+inositol instead. To his doctors surprise, the patient achieved a complete remission and remains in remission 3 years later, after using IP6+inositol alone.
Images above: Computated tomography with the contrast of the chest before and 2 years after starting inositol hexaphosphate+inositol showing complete radiologic resolution of the upper right hilar lymph node.
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Types Of Stage 3 Breast Cancer
These days, people with breast cancer can know more about the tumor than ever before.
In addition to staging, oncologists can now determine a tumors grade and subtype. This information helps the doctor describe the tumor and cancer stage in a more detailed way so that other members of the care team can understand the cancer better.
The tumor grade and subtype of breast cancer can vary between people. Most doctors will test tumors to determine which genes they express, so that treatment options can adapt to the results.
Doctors define different types of stage 3 breast cancer by:
- Tumor grade: This is a measurement of how much the cancer cells differ from healthy cells under a microscope. This also provides a measure of how quickly the cancer cells are likely to grow.
- ER status: This describes whether the cancer cells have receptors for the hormone estrogen.
- PR status: This indicates whether the cancer cells have receptors for the hormone progesterone.
- HER2 status: This describes whether the cancer cells are making the HER2 protein.