I am 41 and was diagnosed last October with bc and secondary liver cancer, I have come through 6 months of chemo every 3 weeks with 4 cycles of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide to start and then 4 cycles of Taxotere, I have now been given the option of what I do next. The problem, if you can call it one, is that I have responded really well to chemo and as far as a scan can show, I have no more tumours or mets, so my team are not sure which line of action to take next with me.
Basically they have said that I can take time out to get over the chemo, come back in 6 weeks and think about what I want next, ie. mastectomy or not. Obviously mastectomy is to stop it spreading, but this is a little late, but it may reduce the risk of it coming back. So really my dilemma is do I go for surgery or not? I know there are no guarantee’s and it can come back whatever I do, but does anyone have any advice for me.
Thanks for reading this and hopefully shedding a little more light on my dilemma,
Hi Pink Pip
You must be really pleased at how you’ve responded to the chemo! Sounds like, for once, a better “problem” to have!! Any decision about treatment is always difficult though and fraught with “what ifs”.
I had a mastectomy when I had my primary dx so wasn’t faced with this particular decision. However I find the whole question interesting and did find a piece of research that may indicate that women (with secondary bc) who have the breast tumour removed, have better survival rates. Not sure whether I can give you the link - and be warned that (as with most research) it does contain survival figures (know some people don’t like reading these) - professional.cancerconsultants.com/news.aspx?id=36970
The conclusion is “that the complete surgical removal with negative margins of the original breast cancer may significantly improve survival in patients diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. They speculate that the improvement in survival may be due to reducing the total cancer burden on the patient’s body through surgery”.
I think this shows some really forward thinking by your team. There is some research to suggest that surgery for stage iv cases improves survival but I have not heard of this being being carried out in this country. As this approach is so new, I think you need extensive discussion with you team on the pros and cons.The one argument I have heard repeated against such an approach is that surgery can ‘release’ more cancer cells into your system and that they can spread via this route. I don’t know how true or not this is. My innate belief is that by relieving tumour burden, you are probably doing some good but this is just a hunch - no clinical evidence. I was diagnosed stage iv from the outset and surgery was immediately removed as an option for me. Good Luck with your decision - get as much info before making a choice as you can!