Asked by dorothyoz on Saturday, February 16, 2013


    Anyone out there that had TNBC no lymph nodes, stage 1a, bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy? I am very confused about the limited tests- post chemo to detect a reoccurance. it's been just 3 mths since finishing last chemo treatment. At recent follow-up visit to Oncologist, I did not receive any scans or blood tests. Just physical exam. She said not necessary....?

    8 Answers from the Community

    8 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Well I don't fit all of your criteria, but I can answer your question. I was triple positive stage 3B, had chemo, bilateral, and radiation. Generally once you are in remission, no additional scans are done unless and until there are any symptoms of a recurrence. There are drawbacks to imaging scans (radiation, contrast dyes, glucose infusions, and costs) when they aren't necessary and no one of them would be conclusive in an of itself that there is a recurrence anyway. I do typically have blood drawn every 3 months, but it is more to see the status of chemo side effects (blood counts, calcium and vit. D levels, etc.) then to look for a recurrence.

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Dorothy,

      I am taking a somewhat educated guess on this to answer your question (I'm not a candidate for chemo [my Oncotype was too good and I was a Stage 1 {though I was ER/PR+, but HER-}]. I'm trained as a Medical Librarian, so there are a number of tools that they (the breast surgeon and the oncologist) use to seek a reoccurence (following chemo) or on yearly or bi-yearly exams. They include: blood work, physical exams and based on these - scans - MRI's and other similar types of scans involving radiation. The scans involving radiation do carry some degree of risk (even mammography does) for increasing instances of cancer so they want to be sure that it's warranted before they do them.

      I'm sure that as your question stays on the site and is answered by others with more experience who've had chemo, you may find out some other info I don't know as well as info by some medical professionals on the site, but I believe those are the basics.

      You can always get a second opinion from another hematologist/oncologist if you're uncertain about your doc's call.

      over 3 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      I have Metastasized TNBC. I had a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy, but no prophylactic chemo when I was diagnosed with stage 1 TNBC, this was because I was on chemo for Advanced Renal cell carcinoma. I am surprised that your markers were tested, this is done with a simple blood test. I received follow up scans as part of my kidney cancer treatment, so I am not sure when they would normal be done otherwise. When I had a nepherctomy to remove my stage 1 kidney cancer, I had follow up scans every 3 months for the first year, every 6 months for the next 2 years and then once a year until I hit my 10th anniversary.

      over 3 years ago
    • SMeridith's Avatar

      I was diagnosed with TNBC and Her2 1A. After finishing chemo I see my oncologist every three months for follow up blood work, check, etc. She does not recommend any scans unless the blood work warrants. I will have a chest X ray once a year asI am comfortable with her decision. TNBC can manifest into lung cancer. She also believes that the risk of the scans is not necessary unless there is good reason to do them. I am comfortable with her decision.

      over 3 years ago
    • nonnie917's Avatar

      I was told by my PS that I would have to have MRI's from now on because mammorgrams would destroy my implants since most of it is tissue from my lower belly. Get a 2nd opinion.

      over 3 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      Hi. I think oncologists differ in their approaches to this. Mine wants a yearly chest Xray and complete blood work every six months. No other scans unless symptoms warrant it. I know you feel a little "naked" against TNBC; other cancers require some sort of oral medication for five years. I am starting to feel a little more comfortable with my prognosis; I recently went over my pathology reports again (no lymph node involvement, wide margins, bi-lateral mastectomy, six rounds of chemo) and feel reassured that I did all I could do. I will continue to be vigilant. Just had brain MRI because of recurring headaches (dr. wanted to rule out any cancer) and had routine colonoscopy (five year recall because of family history). Both tests were negative, my latest blood work and chest xray were fine...I am starting to believe I can live many healthy and productive years henceforward. My doctor doesn't use the term "cancer free" and I would certainly feel better if he did. But I am starting to enjoy a "normal" life. Please try to worry less. We will deal with problems should they arise down the road, but for now, just be happy.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      This is the norm for these stages of Breast Cancer. If determined it was not in bones, lung, etc. after chemo and all there would be no purpose to exposing you to more radiation by doing scans, injecting dyes, etc. Blood test and physical exams every 3 months, mammogram (if any breast tissue left), and or MRI. I did complain of soreness in left breast (had mastectomy there) and Oncologist examined and thought it was just scar tissue, but she sent me to the surgeon and to get an ultrasound just to be sure. All was clear! But, you need to point out any symptoms that bother you so you can be checked out. And that is it! The most important thing to do now is go live your life!

      over 3 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      hey there - so i'm similar to you, except that i was stage ii. i had chemo and then bilateral mastectomy. my team sees me every 3-4 months and performs a physical exam and asks me questions about pain. if i present a new symptom of pain that could be consistent with recurrence or metastases, then, a scan will be ordered up. otherwise, that's it. there's no suitable blood work for triple negative.

      at first, i felt like i was floating in scary-ville. but, i've come to very clearly realize that this is way way better. instead, i just pay attention and write down pain if i have it. if it doesn't resolve or is particularly worrisome, i call in. the general rule is two weeks, unless it's something very out of the ordinary...

      one time, i had rib pain, and i was really scared. i called, and my doc had me come in that afternoon. turned out to be an overuse injury because i had gone for some very very long bike rides ... without the fitness really to back those up, if you know what i mean. i was just so excited to be out on my bike - i totally overdid it. this was like 2 months after my last treatment. anyway, to make it short... he did a physical exam and felt confident that i was looking at an overuse injury. he ordered a chest xray, just in case. and that came back normal.

      so, that's it. take a deep breath... and try to relax. it takes a while to get used to, but you will get used to it.

      hugs to you.
      ps - congratulations on finishing treatment!!!!

      over 3 years ago

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