Stage 2 breast cancer: What treatments decisions did you have to make?

Posted by penpen @penpen, Thu, May 9 8:59am

Just thinking how did you all decide between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy? I just don’t know. I know I would not like to worry about this coming back but yet a mastectomy is sure a lot more to over come.

Liked by cindylb, trixie1313

Thank you SO much for posting this. I have just been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer as well…..so much information to take in. Learning from others in this group would be so helpful. In appreciation……

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I listened to what the team at Mayo told me after a very thorough second opinion which included a needle biopsy of my lymph nodes and a second mammogram. There did not appear to be lymph node involvement. We discussed the followup for each option and I and my daughters asked many questions. I chose a lumpectomy after much thought. One concept that was stressed was— treat the disease you have right now. Yes the potential still exists that I might get breast cancer again or some other type of cancer because I am BRCA 2, I chose what I thought was the best option. I am almost two years out from the initial diagnosis and 1 year 3 months out from finishing chemo and radiation.

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@marykaym63

I listened to what the team at Mayo told me after a very thorough second opinion which included a needle biopsy of my lymph nodes and a second mammogram. There did not appear to be lymph node involvement. We discussed the followup for each option and I and my daughters asked many questions. I chose a lumpectomy after much thought. One concept that was stressed was— treat the disease you have right now. Yes the potential still exists that I might get breast cancer again or some other type of cancer because I am BRCA 2, I chose what I thought was the best option. I am almost two years out from the initial diagnosis and 1 year 3 months out from finishing chemo and radiation.

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So were you ok with the outcome of the radiation? I have been told not to do the radiation because it's so hard on your skin and what's underneath it.

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@penpen

So were you ok with the outcome of the radiation? I have been told not to do the radiation because it's so hard on your skin and what's underneath it.

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So the radiation was on my right side. I had 20 treatments including boost treatments. I didn't experience a burn until after and it was small and treatable. While I was tired, the tiredness was nothing in comparison to the tiredness I experienced with chemo.
With a mastectomy, there were more decisions I was going to have to make—-what about the other breast, was I going flat, was I doing reconstruction, what kind of reconstruction was I doing, what was my healing time and other questions that each needed research on my part and decisions. I had my lumpectomy 2 weeks after my second opinion at Mayo, then chemo and finally radiation. I was fortunate that there was no lymph node involvement. I stage 2 metaplastic breast cancer that was triple negative. I was through the whole process in 7 months, not counting some additional recovery time.
I'm now 72 and looking forward to traveling, gardening and quilting.

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@penpen

So were you ok with the outcome of the radiation? I have been told not to do the radiation because it's so hard on your skin and what's underneath it.

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You’ve likely already sought out the guidance of your oncologist. My doctor did a mamma-print to know the characteristics of my cancer cells and how were reproducing. My cancer was pretty slow growing, so she felt radiation was enough and I could be spared chemo. I had 19 treatments of radiation, and did not have severe burning or skin issues. My skin was tender, but not really ‘burned’ with blistering. For me it was the fatigue as the radiation treatments progressed that was the hardest. The fatigue lasted about 6 weeks after treatment, and then slowly started to improve. It’s been a year now since I was diagnosed, and treatment ended last year in early August. Now my issues are with the side effects of the estrogen lowering medications, Anastrozole, or Tomoxifin, that have been difficult for me. These medications can be challenging for cognitive function. There are many articles available on-line from various reputable sources such as this one, the Mayo Clinic, and others to gain valuable information from.

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@loisc
My breast surgeon advised lumpectomy with reduction as I was quite large. It turned out I also had another lesion in the same breast opposite side so at the second lumpectomy, they removed that, reduced my breast and reshaped it. While there, they also reduced my other breast and no lesions found in that one. The reason she advised this was that even with mastectomies, there is still some breast tissue and one can get breast cancer yet again. For me, this option has been wonderful…I am no longer and F+++ but a B- or A+ size….I can now be in a hot tub and not float to the top but sit in the actual seat! All the best to you in your decision making…it's a tough one and a personal decision.

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I am a five-year survivor of breast cancer. My choice was a total mastectomy and reconstruction. I had a lump on my left breast, no lymph nodes appeared to be involved. I had three mammograms, two ultrasounds, and two biopsies. (I wanted to know exactly what was going on). I was not BRCA 2, and I worked with a Geneticist and found only one family member to have had breast cancer, and she was in her late 80s. I am so grateful for my decision! During surgery, 13 lymph nodes had to be removed under my left armpit and my lump was stage II. Had I chosen a lumpectomy, I’m not sure what the outcome would have been a few years down the road. Because of the size (smallness) of the lymph nodes and my breast tumor’s make- up, I did not have to undergo any radiation or chemo.
I did council extensively with all of my surgeons, Oncologist, and Oncology Social Worker about all of my options. I researched until I felt like a Dr myself…I know all of you understand!
After reading that the risk of cancer reacurrance was higher with a lumpectomy than with a mastectomy, it was an easy decision for me.
I am now a strong advocate for early detection, and support groups for women and men with Breast Cancer. It is a huge decision that only you can make. But is has to be an educated decision! Talk to women who have been through different surgeries and treatments, especially those who are several years out. Once you make your decision, it should be one that gives you peace of mind. Find a support group. Friends and family are essential, but so are other women who can truly relate to you and feel what you are feeling. Get phone numbers. Have someone you can call when a qestion pops up or you have one of those “moments”.
I cannot stress enough that this type of decision has to be your own, and it has to be an educated decision that applies to your situation, and please counsel extensively with all of your medical team and any family members you want involved.
You will make the right decision for you!!

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Ok I am taking in every word you all are saying. I feel that I don't want to go through this again!!! How come all the doctors encourage you to do the lumpectomy? They tell me with the lumpectomy I need to have radiation and I don't want radiation so that means mastectomy but it sounds like a long ordeal Did anyone do implants with there own body fat? Right now I am doing a trial study just trying to shrink my tumor with Anastrozole. I just am waiting to see if it is shrinking it. I will have to do chemo if it is not. Did any one do this trial?

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I am concerned that my breast cancer could come back. I am trying to do everything I can that will help ensure that will not happen. One thing that I think my be extremely helpful is diet. If any of you get the chance and are at a Mayo Clinic Rochester (Cancer Education Center – Gonda Building) go to the seminar given by John Shin, MD, Hematology/Onocology, Mayo Clinic Rochester. The name of the class is “Diet and Cancer: Does it Matter What I Eat?”. The class is exceptional and has incredible research on how diet can make a huge difference. Independently, I purchase the book “How Not To Die” by Michael Gregor, MD, FACLM. This talks specifically about breast cancer and diet along with other diseases. It outlines foods, spices, etc that helps stop Cancer. This gives us another tool to help combat reoccurrence. Hope this helps along with the other decisions you need to make.

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@penpen

Ok I am taking in every word you all are saying. I feel that I don't want to go through this again!!! How come all the doctors encourage you to do the lumpectomy? They tell me with the lumpectomy I need to have radiation and I don't want radiation so that means mastectomy but it sounds like a long ordeal Did anyone do implants with there own body fat? Right now I am doing a trial study just trying to shrink my tumor with Anastrozole. I just am waiting to see if it is shrinking it. I will have to do chemo if it is not. Did any one do this trial?

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P.S. I had a lumpectomy, with proton beam therapy. It took 3 sessions in one week. I had no burning or no other side effects. I am now on Anastrozole. I have been on Anastrozole for just over a year.

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@100154

P.S. I had a lumpectomy, with proton beam therapy. It took 3 sessions in one week. I had no burning or no other side effects. I am now on Anastrozole. I have been on Anastrozole for just over a year.

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@100154 Congratulations on your success with your surgery and your radiation treatments. How are you doing with the Anastrozole? I have been on it for 15 months.

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Hello Penpen – I've read all of the responses here to your question and there's a lot of great information and insight for you here from women who had to face the same decision. So much depends on your cancer and your doctor's recommendations but as members have said, you must make the decision that you feel most comfortable with and that will come to you (it's hard though and you're not alone in feeling overwhelmed, it's a big decision). I chose bi lateral mastectomy and I am happy with my decision. I didn't struggle much because I'd been first diagnosed with Stage 0 cancer in my left breast and had a lumpectomy then two years later Stage 1 cancer showed up in the right breast. That is when I decided to remove them both. My cancer was lobular (not ductal) and it's an 'equal opportunity breast cancer invader' (ha ha). Lobular is more likely to appear in both breasts vs. one breast. I was given the choice of lumpectomy for the second appearance of cancer or a bi lateral mastectomy and I jumped at removing the breasts because I was concerned about having cancer appear in both breasts and the sneaky nature of the lobular type of cancer (grows in a linear fashion instead of lumps and harder to find). I had benign lumps removed twice when I was much younger as well and I really didn't find the mastectomy any more painful than the lumpectomies. There is a longer recovery and it is a more major surgery but still very manageable. I have heard that from many women. They are pretty good at mastectomies now. I didn't do reconstruction and that was a second choice that must be made. I didn't want foreign objects in my body (the implants) and the length of time for reconstruction and recovery for me was going to be harder (because I was an ex smoker of only a couple years they would not do an immediate reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy). I'm older (61 years now) and had this surgery 3 1/2 years ago….. I opted to have my breasts removed so I wouldn't worry quite so much about recurrence and perhaps not be as lucky as I was to find it early both times. My cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes and I didn't need radiation or chemo. I was, unfortunately, unable to take the hormone blocking AI drugs post mastectomy, so I have some worries in that department but I'm coming up on 4 years cancer free now and hoping to keep it that way. Research, talk to your doctors, keep sharing on this site and other support groups and follow your heart……we've all been where you are and it's a tough decision but one that you will come to you. Hugs……….

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I was just diagnosed 3 months ago with invasive ductal carcinoma and had to make the same choice…I had a bilateral masectomy with reconstructive surgery at same time…have phase 2 coming up in June. My decision was determined because of a very strong family history.. and I have never looked back..had hyperplasia cells in other breast as it turned out.My family and friends whom had cancer prior were a huge factor in my decision…it is different having implants but really…It was not a terrible surgery at all! But having said this, like so many have said…everyone is different and you have to do what feels.best for you…we are so blessed for the medical care we have available now compared to 10 years ago!

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I so appreciate all of the information each of you have posted. I have been diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma. I too have an extremely strong family history with all of my 5 siblings having cancer. My sister had it in both breasts, my mother, my two grandmothers. My brothers coped with pancreatic, kidney and prostate cancer. I am strongly leaning toward bilateral masectomy as well. Again, thank you to all of you for input!

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@100154

I am concerned that my breast cancer could come back. I am trying to do everything I can that will help ensure that will not happen. One thing that I think my be extremely helpful is diet. If any of you get the chance and are at a Mayo Clinic Rochester (Cancer Education Center – Gonda Building) go to the seminar given by John Shin, MD, Hematology/Onocology, Mayo Clinic Rochester. The name of the class is “Diet and Cancer: Does it Matter What I Eat?”. The class is exceptional and has incredible research on how diet can make a huge difference. Independently, I purchase the book “How Not To Die” by Michael Gregor, MD, FACLM. This talks specifically about breast cancer and diet along with other diseases. It outlines foods, spices, etc that helps stop Cancer. This gives us another tool to help combat reoccurrence. Hope this helps along with the other decisions you need to make.

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Hello,
Thank you for this post. Diet is of great interest to me as it relates to our health. I called the Cancer education center at Gonda and they had not heard of this class. I wonder if you could provide further details, so I could track this offering down. Thank you!

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