mastectomy and secondary breast cancer

I was diagnosed with bc and lung mets 3 years ago and was not offered a mastectomy. 3 years on, I am still ok, despite some progression, and brought up the subject of mastectomy with my onc, who referred me to the surgeon. I saw her yesterday, and am booked in for Monday! Because of the speed of the process, and the fact that my 5 year old got very upset when I was talking to him about it this morning, I am now wondering if I am doing the right thing. If the mastectomy could theoretically prolong my life, I feel I should do it, by I hate giving more stress and upset to my family. The surgeon is not putting any pressure on me atall, but happened to have a free slot in her list on Monday.

Hi Nicky

If it has any chance of prolonging your life…go for it!

Your son is probably just worried about you not being there while you’re in hospital, if you explain that the operation could help you (although I agree it is hard with secondaries to explain, as it isn’t technically going to make you ‘better!’)he might feel better about it all.

I sympathise with you, it is a hard decision to make. I am also facing a similar decision in that I have bone mets, in a few places but a large diseased area at the top of my femur. I am meeting a consultant on Monday about the possibility of a hip replacement. Again I have been told that removing such a large area of cancer should improve my prognosis a little. However if it is done in the next few weeks, I will possibility be out of action for most of the Summer, affecting holiday plans etc. More relevant for my teenage son is that I won’t be able to run around after him/be a free taxi service, so he won’t be happy when the implications of the op dawn on him!

It is understandable your worry about giving your family added stress and upset! After all most of us with secondaries are mostly concerned with the impact on our families, not with the medical proceedures themselves.

Whatever decision you make you are possibly going to feel uneasy about, but if I was in your situation I think that I would go for the op!

Take care and I really everything goes well on Monday if you decide to go along with it,

Nicky xx

Hi Nicky

I don’t know if this helps but here goes. I had a mastectomy after chemo in September 2007 with total lymph node clearance. I was a 36D cup. Once my life got back to something like normal again I found the requirement to wear the prosethes(?spelling)a nuisance and felt physically very abnormal ie, neither one thing nor another. Plus, by early Spring of 2008 I started to have back, neck and shoulder problems because of the imbalance even with the prosethes. As a result I had a second mastectomy in October 2008. I have not regretted that decision as I can now choose whether to strap my falsies on or not, it depends what I am wearing and how much energy I have to carry them around! They are the light ones but even so, not having to wear a bra when its hot is loveley, for me anyway.

Everyone is different but that is what has worked for me. I didn’t have to have the second mastectomy because of potential spread, at that time thought I was going to be alright, it was purely for symetry(?spelling again) purposes. However, now that I have spread it is one less thing to worry about. Also, I was 47 when first diagnosed, I am now 50 and look better covered up anyway so I am not bothered about having no cleavage etc.

If there is no medical evidence that this will help I would seriously consider not having it done because invariably any operation can lead to other problems - I am sure you know all this. However, I think I would also feel that if I knew there was a tumour in my breast I would want rid of it so there you have it. Only you can decide. I haven’t regretted for a minute what I have done.

Maybe you just need to take a little more time to be absolutely sure, don’t just go because she has a slot free, there will be other opportunities next week or the week after. Take all the time you need.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

Love Sue xx

Hi Nicky,

I had chemo first then mx and anc in Jan 08 after diagnosis in July 07. Have bone mets. I don’t regret it at all.

Will add more later - must dash out now!


See previous thread here–t20880.html

I had mets dx 3 weeks after primary (way back in 2006) so not had breast surgery.

I was dx primary and secondary in March 2009, had initial chemo and herceptin. Did so well I was offered mx which I went ahead with. However, during preop assessment it was discovered primary and secondary was growing again. Went ahead with op anyway as it would give me less to have to fight. Had revision of mx scar a few weeks ago so still have not been fitted with prosthesis. My youngest age 7 was concerned about me having mx but we sat down with both kids and had a long conversation with then about potential benefits and he got used to the idea. Kids can be very resilient. Hope all works out for you. PM me if you like.


Hi everybody,
just to let you know that I went ahead with the mastectomy and am now home ( with drain!) My great surgeon found some further research that suggests mastectomy is particularly useful in secondary cancer that is er/ HER positive, which mine is, and after another discussion I was happy to have the surgery.Am feeling a bit sore but otherwise well. Thank you for your advice.

Hi, good to hear you are home! Take it easy and rest up…xx

Hi Nicky, Thanks for letting us know your decision. Mine is also er/her positive. For now my tumour markers are coming under control again with possibly three more cycles of chemo and then continuing with lapatinib. The soreness does subside. Glad to hear you are feeling positive about it.


Hi back in 2004 i was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 40. i had lumpectomy some nodes were involved had full clearence. undergone chemo and rads and 4 years on tamoxifen arrimadex aromasin. had all clear on mammo everytime i went 5 years on went for routine ct scan on tummy as ibs was bad … only to have the results that i had secondary to the lungs lung mets this was two weeks ago wow what a shocker its non agressive but my world fell apart … my on con got me back on aromasin and scan again in 3 months but the thing is he thinks its been there a while but my follow ups were just mammogramms no x rays or scans till last week so if it wasnt for that scan i would have found out too late . so worried

Hi Waltonlizie,

There are some very supportive threads on here for secondaries. Thank goodness for scans. My cancer growing again was spotted earlier than planned because of having a pre-op ct scan when I was having a mastectomy, otherwise it could have been left to grow for another three months.


Snoogle, really good to know your tumour markers are coming down. Walton lizzie, I’m sorry you have had to join us, and remember the shock very clearly. The secondary forums are very supportive and I hope you feel you can post about anything. I have been living with lung secondaries for 3 years now, and on the whole have a very good quality of life. At least now that your mets have been diagnosed, you will be closely monitored. Take care

hi to everyone on here
This is my first time on here and would just like to hear about anyones experiences of secondary breast cancer in the lungs , i was told yesterday that it had spread to my lungs and some lymph nodes above my collar bone my oncologist thinks my best option is to go on a drugs trial for parpinhibitors could anyone shed any light im just waiting for an appointment at the mo and going out of my mind !!!
jane f

Hi Jane and welcome to the BCC forums

I am sorry to read that you are having such a difficult time at the moment, I am sure your fellow users will be along very soon with valuable support and shared experiences. In addition you are welcome to call our helpline for further support and a listening ear on 0808 800 6000, the line is open weekdays 9-5 and Sat 9-2.

We have published secondary information which you may also find useful and you can read or download these via the following link, one is specifically about lung secondaries:

Take care