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Afraid of Secondary


Re: Afraid of Secondary

Hello SBT

Thanks for your post explaining that you are on letrozole and that you are worried about a pain under your ribs.

After a diagnosis of breast cancer, it’s not uncommon to be concerned that aches and pains could be secondary breast cancer. The treatment you’ve had will have been given to reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back. After treatment, most breast cancers don’t come back.

You may want to contact your breast care nurse so that she can organise for you to be seen by your treatment team to have the pain assessed. You may also find it useful to read our booklet After breast cancer treatment, what next?

As Jabro has said the article that she has linked to is very useful and you might also find this updated series of articles useful written by Dr Jane Clark.

Talking to someone who has had a similar experience can be helpful and our Someone Like Me service can arrange for one of our volunteers to talk to you by email or telephone. Our volunteers have had a personal experience of breast cancer and are trained to provide support.

You can ring the Someone Like Me team on 0345 077 1893 or email them at someone.likeme@breastcancernow.org,so they can then match you to your volunteer. 

Many people are surprised at how emotional they feel when their treatment finishes. Adapting to life after treatment can be difficult and often the need for information and support continues. You may be interested in our resources that are particularly for those who have come to the end of their main hospital treatment. These are known as our Moving forward services and include our Moving Forward resource pack.   

We are also currently providing an Moving Forward online course. The course is open to people who have had a primary breast cancer diagnosis and have finished their hospital-based treatment within the last two years.  You can find out more and register for the programme on our website.   

Do call our Helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

If you would like a nurse to call you do complete this form. Ticking the box agreeing to a call back.

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

We will be closed on Saturday the 21st of May for training.

Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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Re: Afraid of Secondary

Sorry Nurses. It’s the insomnia - I didn’t notice this was in your section. I’ve left it because the article is good reading. Xx


Re: Afraid of Secondary


You’re probably right but this is exactly what your breast care nurse is for. I’m sure a conversation with her will clarify things for you. You don’t mention having radiotherapy but, if you did, that is a probable cause of the pain. I still have pain like you describe three years later.

The important thing to understand is your breast surgeon will have secured clear margins in your surgery - that is, no evidence of cancer cells in any of the surrounding tissue. This may be in their letter to your GP, it may have been mentioned to you. You also had no node involvement so that is another plus, a sign that your cancer hadn’t moved. Secondary breast cancer is when it has metastasised ie spread to other parts of the body, like brain, liver, in my case medial canthus (where you pinch the bridge of your nose) so don’t assume it would appear on the site of your breast because it rarely does.

Moving on from the terrors that cancer can evoke can be hard for some people and it takes time. I’m attaching a link to an article a nurse here posted a few years ago. I hope it may help you. Meantime, just for reassurance, ring your breast care nurse and tell her of your fears. Imagination or reality makes no difference to the power they have and you need professional reassurance. 

All the best

Jan x




Afraid of Secondary

Hello, I’m worried that I’ve got secondary breast cancer after primary. I’ve had a good prognosis after mastectomy… my nodes biopsy was clear, and I take letrezole only now and check-ups. I’m looking forward but I can’t get out my head that I’ve got secondary, it’s so irrational. I have a pain under my ribs right side same place as my mastectomy, the pain came 2 weeks before my mastectomy so I assumed it would be gone after op, but surely the node biopsy being clear will mean that’s it’s my imagination.