Deciding about Chemo

Hi, I am interested in different people’s experiences of when they have/have not been offered chemo, especially when it was not a clear cut decision. I am 52, had left mx for invasive ductal, no nodes, no vascular invasion, also had PET scan as part of research project which didn’t show anything other than the breast cancer. At post-op appt the surgeon said he didnt think I’d need chemo just hormone therapy (ER/PR+, HER2-), but he hadnt met with oncs due to bank hols and due to the size (4.3cm) they wanted to meet me. Oncs gave me figures (mortality benefit at 10 years 7% if I add chemo to hormone treatment). They said their benchmark is anything over 3% and they recommended I have it. I keep thinking 7% means that out of 100 women having this chemo with similar results to mine, 93 are doing it unnecessarily. Plus I am a single parent and possibly about to lose my job and need my energy right now. On the other hand obviously want to do my best to beat this. Have asked for a second opinion as didnt see the consultant onc, am seeing them on Weds. Would be interested to hear from anyone who is/has been in a similar position, obviously it is my decision at the end of the day but would like to feel I’ve made it having taken in as much info as possible, thanks, Sue x.

Bumping this thread. I didn’t have the choice so maybe those who have had to make their decisions themselves can post something.

Best of luck,



As far as I understand it the 7% is the extra percentage of good prognosis you have, than if you don’t have chemo. It doesn’t mean it works in only 7% of cases and fails in the other 93%. So for example, if onc says you have 80% chance of living 10 years with mx only, you would 87% chance with chemo as well. They usually recommend it if more than 3% benefit to you. I presume you were grade 2 if there is doubt. Usually chemo definitely for grade 3 and not usually for grade 1 unless nodes involved.

Good luck. Chemo is not pleasant but’doable’. Stella x

Hi Sue,

i was in this same situation at the start of the year although having chemo gave me an extra 5 %.

The surgeon & oncologist left the decision with me as they felt chemo wasnt necessary as like you i had no lymph node involvement, no vascular invasion & a small lump 9mm that was removed by lumpectomy, having said all that it was grade 3.

I chose to go ahead with chemo because i felt that i would rather throw everything at it now & to try & protect against future reoccurrence so for me was all part of the extra insurance/back up package, it was by no means an easy decision & once i decided to proceed even my onc said it may be like hitting a nut with a sledgehammer but i would rather hit that nut now than in 10 yrs.

I started my chemo in Feb & have 1 more left at the end of this month :slight_smile: & then i wil start rads followed by tamoxifen as i am Er & Pr + Her -, it has been more doable than i thought it would be & i am looking forward to moving on to the next stage of treatment which will hopefully be followed by a brill future.

If you would like to pm me to chat further please do.


Hi Sue,

I was told that without chemo my chance of being here in 10 years was 85%; with it was 89%. I didn’t think a 4% difference was really that good until I talked with a friend who is a Pain Consultant and Medical Director of our University Hospitals. She told me it was ‘a no-brainer’ Out of 10,000 people, 400 would still be alive after ten years through having the chemo. She said that I could be one of those 400. That convinced me to have the chemo as I respect her knowledge and experience.

Hope this helps. Sue. xx

Thanks to everyone for posting so promptly. Am in the middle of a busy weekend trying to do fun things and take a break from the strain of it all, will mull it all over and post again later, please if anyone has anything else to add please do. Also if anyone has any suggestions of good questions to ask on Weds that would be helpful - I already have quite a list! Thanks and good luck to all, Sue x


I had chemo over a year ago. Like you my percentage was only 4% more but I thought Im going to take everything they throw at me.

I was DX Feb 2010 after a routine mammogram. it was quite a shock as I had no lumps or bumps. The surgeon thought I would just need a lumpectomy and no nodes removed followed by radiotheraphy, but after the op he found I had 9mm of invasive ductal cancer and that the cells which had been removed were a grade 3. This resulted in me going back in to have 6 lymph nodes removed for sampling, thankfully they were all clear. It was then decided at my case study meeting that they thought chemo would be a good choice for me as the cancer was ER positive but the descision was mine to make. I went on to have 6 FEC and 20 Rads.

A year on I feel terrific. I have had my first mammogram and it is clear. It is a descision only you can make but if I can help in any way please let me know.

Love Anne xx

Just to add to what others have said: the 7% is on top of whatever the chances without chemo would be. In my case, the change was from 80% to 89%. It’s hard to take information in at such a stressful time. Ask someone to go over it again with you.


Hi there,
I had invasive ductal lump 14mm, no nodes, clear margins, grade 2 at the age of 35, I had 20 rads and then tamoxifen for 5 yrs.
That was in 2002 and a day off my 9th clear year I was diagnosed, aged 45 with secondaries in the liver and bones…
Despite your situation with children and work, I would strongly advise having the chemo. I was on the wrong side of the percentage scale and I would hate for anyone else to be in this situation I now find myself in.
Good luck with your decision
Clare x


I’m half way through 6 x chemo.

My prognosis is 62% for still being here in 10yrs’ time with bilateral oophrectomy, MX,ANC, Fec-T chemo, rads and long term hormone treatment.
I would happily do chemo (or anything else)twice if only it could give me another 7%.
You’ve only got one life and it’s precious.
Hang on to it with everything you’ve got.

K x

hi all.
i was given the option of cemo with 3% benefit. i turned it down. my consultant said i had made the right chose for me. like one of the other ladies said get has much advice as possible. my bc was 1.3cm. nodes and margins pos. grade and stage one.all the best gaynor xxx

my comment is not regarding percentages but as a single mom who has just finished chemo

i imagine you must be petrified at the thought of going through chemo living alone with your kids - and that is understandable and i was too BUT i got through it - there were wobbles along the way but it is do-able and if you decide to have the chemo, you will be ok too so do’nt let being alone with the kids put you off - this forum has been a absolutely brilliant support network to me

i am happy for you to message me if you wish


Hi there Sue,

Sorry you’ve had to join us here but you will get loads of support whatever you choose to do with your treatment.

I’m a single 50yr old mum with 2 kids (13 &16) and I had a 3% increase by having 6 xFEC, I’ve had 4 and had to stop due to health reasons (asthma) but my Onc is happy with this. I chose to go with the chemo because I was ER & PR +, plus a grade 3 tumour. (It has to be a 5% to not be your choice with my health trust).

From both the single mum & having chemo aspects, it is do-able and I have continued to work for at least half the time of my chemo treatments. I’m allowed to work a max 6 hour day by occy health and this has helped as my full sick pay was only for 12 weeks, I’m an IT techie. I’m not saying it’s been easy but I would advise asking and accepting help when you can.
I hope this helps and please ask if you have any questions.

Good Luck

Helen xx

I too had to make the decision. I’m 57, ER+ PR+, no node involvement, clear margins on 12mmtumour. I was grade 2 but after examining the lump this was chamged to grade 3. I was told 3% better chance with chemo. Was also told this meant that in my circumstances 97 women would have chemo with no benefit, BUT 3 WOULD. You can’t know which side you fall. I’m taking the chemo. Can’t live with the ‘what if’ monster. I know I’ve done all I can to be around to annoy everybody for a long time yet. I’ve been a sinlge mum too and my kids would have wanted me to have the best chance for them as well as for me.