• No Chemo or Radiation? Do any Breast Cancer patients refuse treatment even if it is recommended by their physician?

    Asked by matt323 on Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    No Chemo or Radiation? Do any Breast Cancer patients refuse treatment even if it is recommended by their physician?

    20 Answers from the Community

    20 answers
    • fuzztig's Avatar
      fuzztig

      What would be the reason to refuse? It is an ethical question, and of course each person is permitted to make their own decision regarding their care. I believe in the advice given to me by my doctors and follow it to prolong my life. Perhaps if I was already at the end of a long life that might change my mind.

      over 4 years ago
    • carm's Avatar
      carm

      Matt323,
      Do patients refuse? Yes and it happens more than you know. I am a nurse who works in oncology/end of life and although I might at times question the wisdom of that decision, my role is to support my patients in any decision they make regardless of my personal views. Any patient who makes that decision does not do so without much thought and you have to appreciate that ritual that brings them to the moment of revelation. However, to get to the premise of your post, it does indeed happen. Best of luck to you and yours, Carm RN.

      over 4 years ago
    • CAH's Avatar
      CAH

      I, myself, feel it's worth it if it will prolong my life. But my doctor told me some people are convinced that it's just poison and will refuse treatment. Then they leave his office and chug down a Diet Coke or order a triple expresso and never consider what that may be doing to their bodies. his words.... no kidding

      over 4 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar
      gwendolyn

      I entered every phase of treatment kicking and screaming (almost literally!) but ultimately I could not find any legitimate reason to refuse the treatments. However crude and barbaric they seem, chemo and radiation are the best that modern medicine has to offer at this point (in addition to other targeted therapies but not in place of them.)

      over 4 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar
      JennyMiller

      I wanted to be aggressive in my battle against this evil and elusive enemy so I willingly used every weapon available. Chemo, Radiation and Ai's are powerful weapons. Yes, they are scary but they are not the
      enemy -- Cancer is the enemy! Also, I wanted the peace of mind knowing that I did all that I could.
      However, everyone is different -- and their peace of mind may be in their refusal.

      over 4 years ago
    • Paw's Avatar
      Paw

      Hello matt23. I didn't even think about refusing chemo and/or radiation. The only thing that I refused was surgery. A neuro surgeon wanted to surgically remove the tumors on my spine. I pray that God will guide and lead you in the right direction.

      over 4 years ago
    • matt323's Avatar
      matt323

      So I wanted to get some answers before I explained further. Plus I am new to this type of electronic sharing! I am the sister of the breast cancer patient. Her feelings, at this point, are that she caught it early and she had a lumpectomy and even though it was then found in some of her lymph glands, it was not found in all of them. So she feels they "got it all". And so she feels there is no reason to dump a poison into her body if there is no cancer. Obviously I feel COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I am trying to respect her wishes and just support her and that is great if it is gone, but, what if it's not?? That "what if" would be enough to compel me to take the poison over the possibility of more cancer. Thank everyone so much for your input!!

      over 4 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar
      debco148

      Yes, people do refuse.. I thought about it, but realized it would have been fear and that my life was more important. I always did holistic cures for other illness and have been lucky to have been pretty healthy. But, after reading of success and protocols with so many folks going through Breast Cancer, I soon realized that there are no proven holistic treatments for the average person. So, I got over my fears, went through chemo and radiation after surgery and now I plan to live my life. I know more now and am stronger in many ways. Don't let fear override the fight for your life.

      over 4 years ago
    • fuzztig's Avatar
      fuzztig

      I agree with gwendolyn that the treatments for cancer can be crude and barbaric. Surgery can be difficult, and chemo stinks, and fear is a powerful motivator. I hope you and your sister are able to find peace with the decisions she makes.

      over 4 years ago
    • SuzanneV's Avatar
      SuzanneV

      I refused radiation! I had a lumpectomy (stage 0) DCIS. At Kaiser the standard treatment is that you follow up with radiation. My DCIS was taken out with a clear margin and it was very small (0.35mm). The oncologist told me to do the radiation and the radiologist whispered in my ear that she wouldn't do it but that it is protocol with Kaiser. I was in debate for several weeks on what to do. Luckily, my husband works at the research in radiology at UCSF, which is at the forefront of cancer research. I was able to get the opinion of several doctors there and they all told me not to do it because my margin was clear and everything was removed. Radiation is not without risk either they all told me and kills good cells as well. After, hearing all their opinions I decided not to do the radiation. I just take the Tamoxifin for 5 years since I was hormone receptive. The cancer always can come back and if it gets more invasive, at least I saved the radiation for then. For now, I follow up very regular with all my physicians, live and eat healthy and hope that I stay clear.
      It all depends on what stage of cancer you are at. If it is invasive, of course you need to go ahead with all the treatment that can save you and kill the cancer. It is a tough decision, I have been there, but you need to do research and evaluate your individual case to make that decision. Get professional 2nd opinions like I did, it makes it easier to decide.

      over 4 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar
      Nancebeth

      I had Stage 1a IDC-L, mixed type tumors, in one breast. I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. My Oncotype DX score was right in the middle so chemo was recommended but not required. After careful consideration of the pros and cons, I decided to go ahead with the chemo. I was also ER+ and PR+ so I started taking Tamoxifen based on the recommendation of my onc. I was unable to tolerate it and so I stopped taking it. I felt like I had to at least give it a try. I wanted every possible chance to survive this horrible disease and I believe I have done my best. Some people would have chosen to stay on the Tamoxifen and deal with the side effects, but I refused.
      Ultimately, it is the patient's choice. It is their cancer and they can decide what to do about it. It may be frustrating for the caregiver but it is more frustrating, scary and sometimes painful for the patient.

      over 4 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar
      Bug

      I hardly questioned doing radiation (after a breast lumpectomy) - it just seemed like the right thing for me. The pros seemed to outweigh the cons and I wanted to kill any bad guys that may have been left behind. (I'd like to add that I love all of the thoughtful comments relative to this post. What a great group of folks. I'm glad I found you!)

      over 4 years ago
    • Paw's Avatar
      Paw

      Hi again. Please, I beg of you to continue to talk to your sister but not to encourage her to do chemo or radiation but to monitor her body for cancer in other areas of her body. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and in 2011, I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the breast - the cancer spread to my liver, (right) lung and spine. I only got a full body scan after taking tamoxifen for five years and a mammogram every year there after. No cancer was ever found in my breast. We (the doctors and I) were just checking my breast for cancer. I was very niave when it came to cancer. I thought it was gone and never to return. I was wrong not to mention devastatedt. What about the rest of my body? I bet that if I had got a body scan at least every other year, the cancer probably would not have spread to my liver, lung, and spine.

      over 4 years ago
    • pll's Avatar
      pll

      People do refuse. However, your sister's story is similar to mine with the exception I don't see her age mentioned. I was 39 (in 1994) had a small tumor and 2 lymph nodes. I viewed chemo, as did my oncologist, as more of a preventative. so I had chemo. A few years later, I asked my oncologist when we would know if if it 'worked'. His answer - we only know when it doesn't work. If your sister has the mental and spiritual strength to face a possible reoccurance, then that's fine. but I recommend the chemo. I'm still here after 19 years.

      the two I know of who refused. One was my husband's aunt. she was an elderly & childless widow who missed her husband desperately. she was ready to reunite with him and not afraid of death. the second was a young woman whose b/c was already metastatic. she discovered she was pregnant and stopped treatment for her child. she knew what the decision meant for her own life.

      over 4 years ago
    • hikerchick's Avatar
      hikerchick

      Lots of helpful info has been mentioned, except anything specific to lymph nodes. If it's in the lymph nodes, that's a game-changer. It would be good to collect all the info you both can on statistics and personal experiences with regard to situations where the lymph nodes were involved. Some here mentioned they were not involved for them, and it's the same for me. But if I had had ANY lymph nodes affected, my approach to treatment would have been COMPLETELY different. The nodes are a very important distinction. I wish you well.

      over 4 years ago
    • mamakas' Avatar
      mamakas

      my surgeon told me I didn't need chemo since the cancer didn't spread to the lymph nodes, but my oncologist wanted me to have it to lessen the chance of getting cancer again. I was going through major anxiety and having panic attacks. I told her I didn't want chemo. She asked me a few more times after that and then told me ok. It was my decision to make and I'm glad I did.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar
      nancyjac

      Unfortunately there are no guarantees either way. Cancer can recur with or without chemo.

      over 4 years ago
    • potpie's Avatar
      potpie

      I did not want to have chemo either. When a patient has positive lymph nodes, then oncologists will want to prescribe chemotherapy. The type of breast cancer is important to know also. Some respond better to chemo than others. I had one lymph node positive, ER/PR +, HER-. My tumor was grade 1, the slowest growing. My stage was IIB. My oncologist wanted to start chemotherapy, but I read a lot of research showing that chemo may not be beneficial to my type of cancer. I did not want to have chemo, if it was not going to benefit me. My oncologist did not consider the Oncotype DX test for me. She said it is not validated in node positive cancer. I got a second opinion and considered entering a clinical trial testing the Oncotype DX test for node positive breast cancer. The trial will compare chemo + hormonal therapy to hormonal therapy only. My recurrence score was low, so I entered the trial and was randomized to the hormonal only group of the trial. I started tamoxifen last week. I would have accepted being in the chemo group in order to gather information for patients in the future having to make this same decision.
      Your sister needs to know as much as she can about her own breast cancer and have her oncologist explain the decision for chemotherapy. If she is eligible for the Oncotype DX test, she should have it done.
      She can also consider a second opinion too. I am very glad I did.

      over 4 years ago
    • alicia1688's Avatar
      alicia1688

      My sister also was diagnosed with breast cancer T1B, ER+, PR-, HER2 -. She wants to do radiation, but she doesn't want to do chemo. Any good suggestion?

      over 3 years ago
    • JP2014's Avatar
      JP2014

      I am the daughter of a breast cancer patient (63). She was diagnosed with Papillary Ductal Carcinoma in situ. it was encapsulated and thought to be stage 0. After a lumpectomy it was discovered that the tumor was larger than originally thought (5 cm) and there was a 2cm stage 1 tumor behind it. She had to go back to surgery 2 weeks later get a safe margin around the second tumor and have lymph nodes tested. They took two nodes which came back clean. The Oncotype DX test came back with low occurrence - 20% I believe and 5-10% with radiation treatment. She had the blood test to see if she carried the mutated cancer gene which she does not. Radiation and hormonal pill are recommended follow up treatment. She is very upset that technology hasn't come farther yet, that they had to take her 2 lymph nodes (it is causing her pain and tightness) in order to find out that they didn't need to take them. She is considering refusing radiation and the pill. She is healthy, lives an active organic lifestyle and the doctors keep telling her how healthy she is and how fast her body heals.

      I am trying to respect her decisions and support her though the process but honestly, I'm terrified. I imagine this could be the turning point I look back on and think, "if only we had continued with treatment things would be differently right now."

      Her naturopath is a fan of the integrated care plan where she takes supplements in addition to the mainstream treatment and works on the "five to thrive" http://fivetothriveplan.com/

      Obviously she has been making positive life changes and will continue doing so more aggressively going forward, but she is already leaps and bounds ahead of the curve. She is working on mediating daily - not falling into excuses, working less, finding what in her life is a source of stress and eliminating it or going about things differently. She eats a very very clean diet but I will suggest she team up with a dietician to give her/us some parameters.

      I know what the arguments are to continue with treatment. Does anyone have an argument for refusal?

      over 2 years ago

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