• I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 4/2/12 and had 1st lumpectory surgery on 5/22/12. Had 23 rounds of chemo (no vomit,fever,neuropathy).

    Asked by liebemutter on Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 4/2/12 and had 1st lumpectory surgery on 5/22/12. Had 23 rounds of chemo (no vomit,fever,neuropathy).

    radiation unnecessary,gained weight) declared "cancer-free". What is the difference between "cancer-free" and "cancer in remission". I would really appreciate a reply and some explanation since it is hard to go thru cancer treatment without emotional support. I felt so alone but glad to have made it out alive. However, it would be nice to know "what" is going to visit me at a later date of my life! Thank you very much!! Best regards, Liebemutter

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • Harry's Avatar

      Well, that's what your oncologist is for--to explain things in terms you can understand. Never let him, or her, get out of the room with a term undefined. :-)

      As I understand it, "cancer free" is the equivalent of NED (no evidence of disease). That means that they couldn't find any evidence that you still have cancer.

      "Remission" means that the cancer is knocked down and beaten up. It isn't in position to attack you right now. It might attack in the future, but for now all is happiness.

      Functionally, these often mean the same thing. It depends on the cancer. If a cancer is curable (not all are but I believe most breast cancer is), then "remission" wouldn't be used unless you are "cancer free." My WM isn't curable so "remission" (not a term used by my oncologist) is what my cancer was until yesterday. Now it's back and I have to beat it into its cave again. :-)

      almost 8 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      Hi Harry. It would be lovely to be able to say cured. I'm not so sure that breast cancer is "curable." When those of us with breast cancer are finished with treatment we say that we are "NED" when there is "No Evidence of Disease." The statistics of recurrence vary widely with breast cancer, but there is always a chance that it will recur. No individual is a number anyway. So we get on with our lives, take our Arimidex or other prescribed aftercare (if any) , and are prudent about monitoring symptoms and having regular checkups.

      almost 8 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar

      Dear Lynn,

      Of course. My issues aren't breast cancer issues. And I defer to those whose expierince is greater. I was just trying to explain to the best of my limited ability. :-)

      almost 8 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      According to my oncologist, no evidence of disease and in remission are one and the same. It means that there are currently no cancer cells that are being detected by any scans or other diagnostic test. Cancer free is when you have no cancer cells. Since there i s generally not scan or test that can confirm that with certainty, it is generally not a term used any more, except perhaps with individuals who have never been diagnosed with cancer, such as you might be told you are cancer free.if a biopsy is negative.

      almost 8 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar

      Yes, "cancer free" and "remission" often mean the same thing. It is my understanding, though, that "cancer free" means that they looked and couldn't find any cancer (NED). In the case of some cancers, there will never be an NED. You always have it. The question is whether it is active at present. I think "remission" might describe that a bit better.

      "Cure" doesn't always mean what we think it means. I heard an oncologist use the word to mean 5 year survival. I guess that means if you don't die until day one of your 6th year then you were "cured."

      Whatever term is preferred, it never means that cancer is gone and will never come back. In a very real sense, cancer is a function of longevity. So, if you survive now then you will get older and your chances of a new cancer increase--just as they increase for your never diagnosed friend. Also, it's always possible that your cancer has crawled into a particularly deep hole. NED means just that: "no evidence." It can, and may, come back. But, you beat it once. Go out and fight it again.

      I agree with those who say to enjoy every day of NED. They are a gift to you. Don't worry about recurrence. It will happen or it will not. Worry can't change that.

      almost 8 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      Here is an article that might be of help

      almost 8 years ago

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