I was unfortunately diagnosed with primary breast cancer earlier this year. Any one reading this in all likely hood knows how that feels and I am not going to repeat all the minutiae of what happened next. I have been treated by the NHS in my opinion very efficiently and I am eternally grateful to all those who were involved.. i am 55 and past the menopause. Before the diagnosis I was very fit and strong and working in a job involving physical work. So surgery and radiotherapy I found easy to deal with. After 4 weeks I went back to work. So far so good. I was lucky again to be able to take part in a trial. This involved the genetic analysis of my cancer. One step further than is normally performed. The result was a very definite identification of the cancer type and what is more a much clearer prediction of return based on information collected over the years from previous patients with this specific type. The prediction was so low it was decided not even to offer me chemotherapy as it would in probability do more harm than good. The cancer team were almost as relieved as I was. Before the trial results I was advised to have chemotherapy ' to be on the safe side'. The team used a computer programme to decide the probability of return of my cancer. They included all the details of the lumps, size ,location ,chemical and physical analysis of the tumours and the surgery results but not the radiotherapy as it had not been agreed on at the time the prediction was being calculated.They did included taking Letrozole for 5 years. My problem now is this. I find the side effects of Letrozole on my body increasingly difficult to live with. I have had to stop work. Sometimes my hands are so painful I can't pick up a pen. My joints give out loud cracks when I stand up. All this after only 6 months. Should I take the pills for another 4 1/2 years? What is the risk if I don't? I believe my life is my responsibility. It would be foolish to disregard the advice of people who have spent their lives acquiring knowledge of a disease and the best way to treat it. But in the end I must chose what I can live with and what risk I am prepared to take. My point is that everything boils down to chance. The cancer treatment team gave me a percentage figure for the cancer returning in the next ten years in the original report. But what are the probabilities if I stop taking the pills. Has having radiotherapy made any difference to the chances of the cancers returning? I would be grateful for any comments as to what I should do. As the consultant told me I am ' still young' ( lovely man) and I don't want to die before my time but if the effects of the Letrozole continue to increase I am going to end up on crutches.
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