• Should I do chemo?bl

    Asked by marybeth on Thursday, May 30, 2013

    Should I do chemo?bl

    I just got my OncoDx score of 26 (high intermediate). My onc said if he were me he would do the chemo. My tumor was 2.8 cm and aggressive but there was nothing in the margins and lymphnodes. they took 2 nodes. It was also indeterminate as to whether their was anything in the blood
    already. The chemo only improves my odds of reoccurrence by 4% but I can't help but wonder if I don't do it, will I worry about it into the future?

    20 Answers from the Community

    20 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      Hi MaryBeth, and welcome to WhatNext. Everyone ultimately has to make their own decision. But I see a lot of people try to talk themselves out of chemo because of all the horror stories they have heard. What you don't hear so much are the stories of people that took the chemo and went on about life like it wasn't affecting them.

      My experience has been this. I had chemo and radiation 25 years ago, I was almost done with treatments that were scheduled, the doctor said I could quit and not take the last two because my nodes were back down in size and everything looked good.

      6 months later the cancer was back and I had to go through another year of treatments, if it were my choice back then, I would have taken the extra two, then maybe I wouldn't have had it the second time. Who knows? If I was in your shoes, I would take it, but that's just me.
      Wishing you the best!

      Greg P
      3x survivor
      Team WhatNext
      Community Mgr.

      over 3 years ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      There are no easy answers and there may be no correct answer. I would think that in your case, the concern is that the cells may have spread in a concentration that is below detectable levels. Do you have a second opinion? They save lives. As a practical matter,many cancer patients have had heavy doses of chemotherapy and do quite well ever after. Conversely, some drugs are quite damaging and leave after effects. I live with those effects, but am happy to be alive, as, in my case, I have received almost 5 years of life that was not expected at first.

      over 3 years ago
    • Risa's Avatar

      Hi Mary Beth,

      I would definitely take the Chemo as I was diagnosed NED after my Bilateral Mastectomy with 27 lymph nodes removed without a trace of cancer. I have now had two recurrences and I am going on my third chemo BUT my cancer is very aggressive as it is Her2 and Inflammatory Breast Cancer and it was Stage III. I also had 6 1/2 weeks of radiation twice a day and the cancer came back to the surrounding area with in 6 weeks. I really believe in getting the chemo throughout your body to kill any microscopic cancer cells. Chemo was very easy for me without many side effects. You may want to get a second opinion! Good Luck in your decision.

      over 3 years ago
    • HearMeRoar's Avatar

      I needed chemo/ wasn't borderline at all. I am grateful for the multi faceted approach I am being treated with - surgery, chemo, rads, tamoxifen. I will have my 5th of 6 chemos tomorrow. The first three were a total breeze. The last one was a little harder but I was back to myself in a week. It isn't a total walk in the park but it isn't like the horror stories you here/ see in the media.

      over 3 years ago
    • Catouheart's Avatar

      My situation is similar to yours. Stage 2 cancer considered aggressive,Tumor was 2.6cm and cells found in sentinal node only - two nodes taken. HOWEVER.....I opted to NOT have onco because if it showed that I might be one of the lucky ones who could bypass chemo and all the fun side effects, I would forever be second-guessing myself. No matter what oncotyoe would show me, I was going ahead with chemo because if cancer ever comes back, I NEED to know that it's not because I tried to cut corners the first time around. Same reason I opted for bilateral mastectomy versus lumpectomy. Everyone is different but if you are already wondering about worrying about it in the future, I think you have your answer. Please know that I was terrified of chemo, but the more I've learned the less scary it seems. Lots of luck in your decision!

      over 3 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      My score was 24. I was stage 1A, IDC-L, no lymph node involvement. Had bilateral mastectomy and chemo was recommended. I did the chemo because I wanted to be as aggressive as possible in my course of treatment. However, although I am 9 months with NED, I do have second thoughts a lot about the chemo. I have had a lot of late effects from the chemo that are affecting my quality of life.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nonnie917's Avatar

      If I were in your shoes I would do the chemo, since it lowers the risk of reoccurrence and because the cancer was aggressive. Why take chances with your life? I know that chemo isn't pleasant from what I hear not having experienced it myself, but think about your future. Don't take any chances with your life. Take the chemo and you might want to check into getting a second opinion. A second opinion can't hurt, but it can help confirm or deny what your current doctor is telling you.

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I wanted to be aggressive against this evil and elusive enemy so I had bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation and I am now on Arimidex for 5 years. Chemo is a powerful weapon in your battle and it is doable. Chemo is not the enemy -- Cancer is -- and chemo will search out that one little cell that may have wandered off and zap it -- so I consider chemo a "friend"!
      Furthermore, I wanted the peace of mind in knowing that I had done everything that I could do -- no regrets later. However, everyone is different and each person has to make the choice that they feel is best for them -- after all, they are the ones that have to live with that choice. I wish you the best --- and please keep us updated.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      It was just a year ago that I had had my first treatment. I had IDC 2.5 tumor, 2 lymphs removed (1 was affected), there were other spots starting in other areas of breast. I had the mastectomy, chemo, 28 rads, tamoxifen, and just found out I am officially post menopausal and can switch to Exematane (Aromotose Inhibitor). Chemo was very scary to me prior, but what I found is that it is doable, and now that it is done, I'm glad I did it. It is one of those things, you never know if there is reoccurance and you didn't do chemo will you question yourself..no need for regrets in all of this, there is too much of life to live! So, 1 year later, I am none too worse for the wear.. getting my strength back more and more each day, and have a head of very thick hair! I just finally resigned to the fact that I had to deal with this and didn't want regrets in the future as you mentioned so I came out with all guns firing against this stupid disease! Think of chemo as a weapon in your arsenal, or a tool in your toolbox to fix what needs to be fixed. And when you go through treatments visualize that these treatments are running through your body, hunting for bad cells and chewing them up....sort of like pac man! Use it to your advantage and focus on healing and not what you may think it is doing to you...sort of change the focus that YOU are in control and pulling out that tool to clear the system... best to you. We are here for you, too!

      over 3 years ago
    • Samcharlie's Avatar

      Hi Marybeth,
      My tumor was 2.8 cm, the margins were clear with no lymph node involvement, stage 2A but tumor was grade 3 (very aggressive). My onco score was 14. I was in a clinical trial and was selected for chemo. I did the chemo. It is not pleasant and does have long term side effects. I am glad I did the chemo because I feel I have done everything to help myself with this cancer and I will not have any "if only" conversations with myself if the cancer recurs.
      It is a hard decision to make. Could you get a second opinion?
      Good luck and all the best whatever you decide.

      over 3 years ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar

      I agree with the crowd here. I had mastectomy. My onc recommended 4 FAC chemo, and 12 taxol treatments. I was scared to death. She gave me plenty of meds to help me thru it all. Luckily never had nausea, or significant side effects. She explained her reason for the prescribed treatment . I never missed a day of work. I did have fatigue. I let the housework go. Catching up now. During chemo, I visualized the chemo as soldiers seeking out the enemy (cancer). This is YOUR decision. Statistics are a tricky thing. A lot depends on how the studies were conducted. Since my onc was involved in some of the studies, she explained why she recommended my treatment, even though the "statistics" may not have shown that to be necessary. The scary part in what you have written is the word "aggressive". One thing I can say is, that chemo or no chemo, you will have some degree of worry about recurrence in the future. Good luck!

      over 3 years ago
    • DorothyV's Avatar

      It is your choice. I didn't even bother with the oncotype testing. I had ILC with a 7 cm tumor. I chose mastectomy with reconstruction. I did chemo and rads because I wanted to know that I had done everything I could to prevent recurrence. God bless you whatever you decide to do:)

      over 3 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      My understanding is that hormone responsive rumors respond better to chemo. From what you documented your cancer was only responsive to one of the three hormones. If I were in your place, I would ask more questions. What kind of chemo would your type of cancer respond to? How many treatments is the doctor suggesting? What impact will the chemo have on your daily life? What future consequences? I am 44, stage 2 also, very aggressive cancer, my tumor was bigger and responsive to all three hormones. I did chemo first, then surgery. For me, with two sixth-grade daughters, I needed the peace of mind that I did absolutely everything possible to live, so I chose chemo, surgery, then radiation.

      over 3 years ago
    • Lindy's Avatar

      Getting a second opinion was helpful for me. I did not want to do the radiation roast and toast. I met with a moderate radiation oncologist and dang of dangs, she highly nearly insisted I accept the first opinion. I did.

      over 3 years ago
    • MillieS's Avatar

      You have you answer when you said, " I can't help but wonder...". With cancer Dx , you will be forever wondering about something you should or shouldn't do. Take the path that you feel will give you less regrets in the future. I had cancer in one breast but decided on a double mastectomy so I wouldn't be wondering about the well one getting cancer. I had no choice on the chemo. But I suggest. That you view this as a battle and you need to have all the troops you can on your side! Chemo isn't as bad as it once was. You can get through it. Did they do any scans on you yet? That will be the way that they determine if the beast has metastized . Good luck to you. We are here for you. Hugs and prayers coming your way!

      over 3 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar

      Hi Marybeth, This is such a personal choice and only you can make that decision. My tumor was 2 cm and I had 2 nodes with microscopic cells. I went from lumpectomy to bilateral in a month and had to wait three months to be completely healed before I could start chemo. I took Taxotere and Cytoxin for 4 cycles every three weeks. I really did not have a lot of side effects except from the steroids you get before your chemo. I could not sleep for a couple of nights after chemo but otherwise it was not bad. You will have to remember that chemo is cumulative and that the further you get the more fatigue you will have--I did not notice this until after my third treatment. I had to do chemo not just for me but my family. I want to be here to see my grandchildren grow up and to make sure that I had the best chance for the future that meant chemo. I never had nausea, vomiting or any other bad side effects. I am now seven months out of chemo and a year from original diagnosis and I am so glad that I have done everything in my power to hopefully avoid this disease a second time. My chance for recurrence is now less than 5% after chemo and taking Tamoxafin. For me this was the right choice and you are the only one who can make the decision for yours--talk to your oncologist and ask all the questions you can think of!

      Good luck and lots of hugs,

      over 3 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      Do it! You may be surprised and the experience may not be as awful as you think. It's not a pleasant experience, but it is short term (although some side effects are permanent) and if you are lucky enough to have a support system, and an oncologist with a capable staff, you'll get through it knowing you'll won't be "what if-ing" the rest of your life.

      over 3 years ago
    • Giraffe's Avatar

      My suggestion would be to do it. Why not reduce your risk . My vote is to increase my chances of survival and success. Good luck to you!

      over 3 years ago
    • debra223's Avatar

      Hi MaryBeth, If this helps, this is what my onc told me. My Onco score was just about like yours and they only took out the sentinal node which was clear. So I was shocked to hear it even recommended thought I'd do radiation and be done! Her answer to me was that this is the one shot at keeping this from ever coming back-because if it does, it's no longer curable only treatable.That's all I had hear-3 months of my life versus? I felt taking that chance wasn't worth it-I wanted to be able to say I'd done everything I could. It wasn't fun but doable and everyone's side effects differ and you get through it.

      over 3 years ago
    • OwlSearch's Avatar

      I had no idea that chemo was optional. Tomorrow, I will have my 5th of 6 chemo rounds. My tumor was 4.5cm and the cancer spread to my lymph nodes. My Specialist said it is "remarkable" how the tumor has responded to the chemo treatment and that she felt confident the chemo was working in the rest of my body. Sorry, I didn't have surgery yet. And, your question was very interesting. I have the same struggle with my sugery option, if I truly have an option. We'll see. Best wishes for the comfort of your decision!

      over 3 years ago

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