Do I need a 2nd opinion?


My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in late March. Although she’s had regular scans she hasn’t had one since crossing 70, she’s now 76, it only came to light because the lump is causing her pain. The GP referred her to hospital and she was seen by a consultant within two weeks as it’s quite a big lump. The consultant took a biopsy and scans and concluded that chemo/radiology/drug therapy was not going to be effective and the best option was immediate surgery. Some other scans (CT and NM) were done and she had her pre-op meeting just over a week ago. Everything was ready and we have been waiting for a date for the surgery, apparently NHS rules say that it has to be done within a month. Got a phone call last Friday to see the consulant today (Monday).


The consultant now says that following their weekly case review last Thursday they’ve now decided that surgery is no longer going to be done. They have now put her on a course of Letrozole. Scans now show that there are signs of cancer in the lungs and front of the skull, not the brain. We’re confused. Up to now the advice has been that the best way forward is to get the tumour out and then deal with whatever is left using a mixture of chemo/radiology/drug therapy. That seems exactly the right thing to do. I asked about the extent of the spread but I didn’t get a clear answer. My mum has now been given an appointment to see an oncologist in a fortnight.


Regardless of whether it has spread or not, surgery to remove the main cause and then dealing with whatever is left seems to right way forward. Does this sound normal? How does my mum go about getting a 2nd opinion?


I think that every hospital has different policies …I really don’t have any answers but here is a true story.
A lady I knew got breast cancer aged 70 but she had heart problems and so surgery wasent an option …she took anastozole one a day ( similar to.letrozole) …she died age 88 of a heart attack so those little pills can work wanders .
Hope this helps


Thank you both for that, sorry if some of the questions seem a bit “obvious” but it’s all new to us.  It’s a lot to get your head round.  


Letrozole appears to be a popular and effective treatment, and she’s just started on it. Would the Hormone Therapy be even more effective if the primary was taken out as well, thereby reducing the chances of the cancer speading elsewhere, increasing the likelihood of success of the letrozole and at the same time removing the chances of any further complications from the primary itself.



Hallo Candy, best wishes to you and your Mum, there is so much to take on board at the start of your journey. It seems logical to want surgical removal of as much cancer as possible but the goalposts do shift once secondary cancer is diagnosed. Systemic treatment, either hormonal or chemo is common practice rather than surgery as a means of controlling the spread. There is even some evidence that a remaining primary tumour can lessen the aggressiveness of mets. 

Hormonal treatment can be all that is needed for many years in some cases and your Mum will have a raft of other options after these. I found it difficult to live with cancer in my body when first diagnosed with mets in 2013 but now I am monitored so closely I like that feeling of control over the little gremlins. 

There is nothing wrong with second opinions though! xx

Thank you everyone for being so understanding.  I’m slowly beginning to see the light, it’s just been a bit crazy for the last three weeks since we found out.  You feel like everything’s turned black, through it all Mum’s been the calmest of all of us.  The first thing she did when we got home was ask me to open bank accounts for the grandkids so that she could put a little money in so that they still got their presents at Christmas and birthdays.