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Q: breast cancer diagnosis ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: breast cancer diagnosis
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: gif2325-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 07 Sep 2006 14:36 PDT
Expires: 07 Oct 2006 14:36 PDT
Question ID: 763159
is there a time after treatment is complete when a breast cancer
diagnosis changes from "no evidence of disease" to "cancer free"?
Subject: Re: breast cancer diagnosis
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 07 Sep 2006 19:25 PDT
Hello Gif2325,

   My research leads me to write an answer I don?t like to deliver,
and that can be misleading. Before you read my answer, please
remember, my answer consists of statistics and numbers. The data do
not take into account a woman?s spirit, strength, attitude and faith.
Your age, type of cancer and when it occurred, your overall health,
your lifestyle and diet play a large part in your complete
recuperation. Eat a well balanced low-fat, high fiber diet, get some
exercise, don?t smoke or drink and get involved in your passion-be it
your hobby, volunteering, or your family!

Not a very promising note, but starkly realistic -  How do I know if I am cured?
   ?If you've been successfully treated for breast cancer, you
probably want the security of knowing that you're home free. Yet there
is no absolute assurance that a dormant cancer cell won't wake up and
start to divide. The only way you will know for sure that you have
been cured is when you die at 90 of a stroke. Because there always is
a slight chance that breast cancer will return, you probably wonder
how you will know if it is back.?

   Generally speaking, 5 years is the ?Breathe Easy? point. The caveat
is, you may breathe easy, but you must remain vigilant always. ?Dr.
Dean's Comment: This tells us that using five year survival as a claim
for cure may be premature. This is not bad news. The over-all 40 year
survival numbers are here in this article and represent major progress
against breast cancer in women under 50, a particularly difficult
cancer. The important point is that after five years women still need
to be on guard and always consider the possibility that cancer could
come back.?

?Although average remaining life expectancy in the affected age groups
is usually several decades, data regarding survival perspectives
beyond 10 to 20 years after diagnosis are sparse. The aim of this
study was to assess long-term survival in a large population-based
sample of patients diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 years.?

   ?Nevertheless, patients diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50
years continue to have increased mortality throughout at least four
decades after diagnosis. This applies even if breast cancer is
diagnosed in a localized stage and in the absence of a second primary
breast cancer.
CONCLUSION: Despite major improvement in prognosis over time, breast
cancer occurring among patients who are younger than 50 years remains
a chronic disease that affects prognosis for decades.?

   ?PURPOSE: That patients can be ultimately cured of breast cancer
has been questioned, because late deaths from the disease have been
observed even several decades after the diagnosis. The purpose of this
study was to investigate late mortality caused by breast cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using the files of local hospitals and the
Finnish Cancer Registry, we identified all patients with
histologically diagnosed invasive breast cancer in a defined urban
area (city of Turku, Finland) from 1945 to 1969 (n = 601). In 563
cases (94%), clinical data and histologic and autopsy slides could be
reviewed, and these women had been monitored for a median of 29 years
(range, 22 to 44; n = 66) or until death (n = 497). RESULTS: Mortality
from breast cancer was observed even during the fourth follow-up
decade, but if women who were diagnosed with contralateral breast
cancer were excluded (n = 30), no deaths from breast cancer were
identified after the 27th year of follow-up evaluation. The 30-year
survival rates were 62% ?

   ?It is all too easy to become overwhelmed by statistics when
diagnosed with cancer. You read about five and ten year survival
figures and automatically relate them to yourself. What people fail to
take into account is that these relate to large numbers of patients
not to specific individuals and that we all respond differently. This
becomes very apparent when you hear a group discussing their
experiences with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The way in which you
choose to interpret statistics can have a profound effect on your
approach to life. If the statistics state five year survival as eighty
percent I prefer to class myself as one of that eighty percent. It is
a question of perception ? is the glass half full or half empty? You
cannot live without hope.
Living with uncertainty as we do makes me appreciate every day ? never
to take the ordinary or mundane realities of daily existence for
granted. Another positive I gained from a cancer diagnosis was that
one does not put things off. So many of us go through life constantly
saying "I'll do it next year". For me next year may be too late. I
still live my life very much in the present and on a day to day basis
but I do not get out of bed in the morning and think "is this cancer
going to come back today"?

I acknowledge that one day it may but it does not dominate my
thoughts. The fears and anxieties have never completely disappeared
but have become incorporated into my day to day existence and have
lessened in intensity with the passage of time.?

   ?The luxury of a future may have been taken away from me, but I
still have today and my husband, and I can't afford to be negative
because it wastes too much energy. When I speak to my friends, and
they're moaning about trivial things I think, 'You just don't get it
do you?' Now, there's not one day that goes by when I don't say,
'Thank you, thank you, thank you, whoever you are for letting me be

I hope this has addressed your question. If anything is unclear,
please reuest an Answer Clarification, and allow me to respond, before
you rate.

I wish you the best of luck and health!
Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
breast cancer survival analysis
breast cancer + cured
Subject: Re: breast cancer diagnosis
From: mgnairtvm-ga on 07 Sep 2006 20:24 PDT
Expectations (prognosis)    Return to top 

The clinical stage of breast cancer is the best indicator for
prognosis (probable outcome), in addition to some other factors.
Five-year survival rates for individuals with breast cancer who
receive appropriate treatment are approximately:

95% for stage 0 
88% for stage I 
66% for stage II 
36% for stage III 
7% for stage IV 
The axillary (armpit) lymph nodes are the main passageway that breast
cancer cells must use to reach the rest of the body. Their involvement
at any time strongly affects the prognosis.
Chemotherapy and hormone therapy can improve prognosis in all patients
and increase the likelihood of cure in patients with stage I, II, and
III disease.

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