cancer clear but booked for chemo?

I was diagnosed wit cancer in my right breast just over 2 months ago, I had a lumpectomy 2 weeks ago with a sentinal node biopsy, on friday I was given what at first seemed the best news ever and that was that I was medically now “cancer Clear” Then came the “but”  I am to have 6months chemo in order to then be put on one of the hormone cancer drugs I dont understand this at all and would really appriciate any information or experience anyone could share with me. I probably

 sound crazy but I and my family dont know wether to laugh or cry!!!

Hello No1 Penguin Fan (great name by the way)


I can understand you confusion and disappointment to have the ‘but’ of chemo.  Chemo is given when they judge that there is a sufficient benefit in reducing the risk or recurrence or spread, and is based on a number of factors, size and node status are part of this, but so is grade, hormone sensitivity and sometimes your age.  For example, if your cancer was Her2+ then herceptin is a good targeted therapy, but at the moment is only given in conjunction with chemo for people with primary breast cancer.


I think probably the best thing to do is to ask them why they think chemo is in your best interests.  I do know a few younger ladies (by which I mean under 50 at time of diagnosis) who were ER+, had small, node negative cancer and had chemo as part of a ‘belt and braces’ approach.


Chemo isn’t fun, but it is doable.  At the end of the day it is your call - they can’t make you have it, but for many women it is reassuring to know they’ve ‘thrown everything at it’

Hi no1penguinfan,


I’m afraid this is the way cancer works. When you have the tumour and any sentinal lymph nodes removed, you then have further treatment (e.g. chemo, radio, hormone, herceptin) to mop up anything that might be left behind. These small particles of cancer can’t be seen on any test so the oncologists have to assume there are some and give you whatever treatment is appropriate. I had invasive cancer, with one lymph node affected, so had a mastectomy and the lymph nodes removed, so technically I had no cancer left. But I had chemo (6 cycles over 18 weeks) and during that time I discovered I had vascular invasion (particles of the cancer floating around my blood stream). One good reason for having chemo I guess! I am on a hormone tablet for at least 5 years. this is to reduce the oestrogen in your body and hopefully prevent more cancers forming.


I am putting two  links for you to look at.


is a booklet about chemotherapy. And


which is about treatment in general. I hope they will be helpful.


poemsgalore xx

I had a large grade 2 with 3 nodes involved and had a MX and node clearance. After surgery I was told I was also cancer free but would still have 6x chemo, 3 week rads and tamoxifen for 5 years. To be honest it was a no brainer for me as I didn’t want to risk any of those little bleeders floating about and knew if I didn’t go through with it I would never be happy or feel safe. For me it was the lesser of 2 evils and while it has been a tough journey I am nearly out the otherside and glad 100% I made the right decision for me and threw everything I could at this disease.


Ps I was 36 at dx :slight_smile:


You’ve found the right site for help, No 1 Penguin Fan! And you may find even more day to day support from the other ladies who are just about to start chemo;


Good luck in getting the answers you need so that you can make the choices that are right for you.

Jane x

Thank you whiskers2013 your input has helped me put things into perspective I seem to struggle with logical thinking at mo!
Really happy for you to be coming to end of a really tough time you are a very brave lady and I wish you all the best for the future women like yourself and others I have had the pleasure to come across on this site are a real inspiration to us that are at the beginning of our journey thank you all xxx

Chemo isn’t much fun but It probably won’t be as bad as you imagine and there are plenty of drugs to counteract some of the nasty side effects.

Hi i too was given the  same news as you, all family and friends sending messages of delight that the cancer has gone,but i felt mixed emotions and didnt feel i could celebrate because of the option of having chemo, but at the end of the day it was a no brainer when i got my head round it, to stop the bloody thing coming back, i am having 6 bouts and have just had number 4 on the 25th, its not pleasant by any means have had days of sickness terrible tiredness and indegestion heartburn and food is very difficult with the smells and changes in tastes but you do get through the bad days, i have had the cold cap and so far have managed to keep my hair, you lose lots in the first cycle but then it slows down so if you choose to go down this route dont think it wont work after the first cycle because it can, most oc believe it not to work but im doing ok so far eyebrows and lashes still there too, the se vary and as i say not pleasant but whats the other option look upon it as an insurance policy that you have done everything to stop it returning. good luck


sorry forgot to say i was 43 when diagnosed and they said that due to my age that was why i was been offered the chemo because your cells are still changing, on top of the radio and tabs for 5 years

I think you’re best to have everything you’re offered, after all it’s only a few months discomfort to enjoy the rest of your life xx

Saw my onc today and she totally threw a spanner in the works by telling me that if I was anxious about the thought of recurrence I should go down the chemo route, but it is my decision and one I have to make by the end of the week. Am only 44 with family history (mum and sis, both had chemo and rads which is soething I brought up at the meeting) so I think that is why she is suggestig this as an option to consider…
My tumour was quite small (10.5mm) with clear margins and no lymph or vascular invasion, HER2-ve and ER and PR positive. The stats test she did showed without chemo there was a 5% chance of recurrence.
Am going to ask for a second opinion tomoro as wondering if she was just concerned about my worries but as the nurse in the chemo suite who rang me later in the day said, equally they don’t just give chemo on a whim…
Such a tough decision to make, really not sure what to do… xxx

I totally understand I’m pretty much in same boat! My tumour was just under 2cm good clear margin both lymph/node biopsys clear
No history but want me to have chemo so I can have herceptin as was HER2 pos and I am pre meno. I am 48 I had my long hair cut short today thought it might make methink more clearly if wasn’t facing my long hair each
day I’m afraid I still can’t get head round it.
Best wishes xx

I agree 100% with Lola. If the tumour is Her2+, then Herceptin is the real game changer in terms of preventing recurrence down the line. And as Lola says, the licence doesn’t allow it to be given without chemo. But I didn’t have a Taxol, I had Adriamycin and cyclophosphamide. Now three months into Herceptin - and they told me yesterday that I’ll be able to go onto the new formulation which is given not into a vein but under the skin.


Good luck making your choices.

Jane x

I am in a similar situation but in my case I know the tumor removed is invasive(grade III). No cancer cells were found in lymphatic vessels or the margin of the tissue removed. Still, since the (small) tumor removed is highly malignant one cannot exclude that some detached malignant cell(s) remains somewhere in my body (metastases). Therefore I have decided to accept the offer of getting chemo. Maybe you could ask whether your tumor is considered grade III?

Hello, I’m new to the forum and have been reading your posts for a few weeks and thought I’d join. I had mastectomy 6 weeks ago. I saw oncologist on Mon as I had been told I was borderline for chemo, don’t need rads and will take hormone medication for 10 years. I’d looked at predict website and thought I would have a difficult decision to make re chemo as it said 4.5% increase in lifespan after 10 years. Then when he told me I have 35%chance of cancer returning even with hormone treatment AND chemo it was obvious to me I need it. Mynodes were clear, good margins but I had 2 tumors 1.3cm and 3.4cm grade 2 and I think my age has something to do with it. (I had my 60 birthday while recovering from the opp. ) So I’m preparing for chemo, reading your very helpful posts here helps. I have appt 10 Dec when I think I have a look round and have my application for a wig ready. I’m scared of the next 6 months. Can’t imagine going out with a wig! Also the consent form was scary, talking of life threatening side effects and I’ve never felt ill, just nervous for the last 3 months. I expect the worst then hopefully it won’t be as bad (that doesn’t seem to make sense now!) But that’s how it went with my operation. Thanks Mazbee

Hi Mazbee

Welcome to the BCC forums, you will find lots of support here and in addition our helpliners are on hand during the week 9-5 and Sat 10-2 on 0808 800 6000 with practical and emotional support for you

This link will take you to the treatments section of the site, here you will find lots of information and support ideas to help you through the coming months:

Take care
Lucy BCC