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Aggressive Treatment

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Hi everyone, just wondering about some treatment protocols.

I have known 3 women with different cancers diagnosed and treated early that did not receive chemo and all had recurrence.

Ovarian, breast and lung cancer - all diagnosed very early (all in stage 1, different grades). Both ovaries removed (although malignant tumor in only one), lumpectomy with clear margins and lower lobe removed from the lung cancer. None of these ladies were given chemotherapy and all of their cancers returned within a couple of years. It really makes me wonder if doctors are offering the most aggressive treatment to people for long term survival?

My best friend's husband is an oncologist and he tells me that chemo is not always the standard protocol if you find something in very early stage. Then I asked him what he would recommend to his daughter (who is now only 13) and he said he would probably insist she had chemotherapy, no matter the stage, because he's seen cancer return when margins were clear and negative lymph nodes. He talked about microscopic cells drifting off from original site and sort of lost me with some technical language.

I don't know what to make of it but I am starting to think it makes sense. Probably a decade ago I watched a program profiling a woman whose grandmother, mother, aunt all died of breast cancer and she elected to have a preventative bilateral mastectomy. Frankly, I thought she was insane and that the surgeon was irresponsible. Today I am sure she did the right thing.

I guess I have seen so many people with recurrence that I am starting to think prevention is best. Hey, I hardly think we should all remove our body parts early to ensure not getting cancer (and removing essential organs is out of the question, of course) but maybe the use of chemotherapy is more warranted than we might think. Maybe chemo can be lumped in as a preventative measure following surgery (or before surgery) to beat down the chances of cancer ever becoming a part of life again.

My mom didn't have that chance at her stage - she's not considered curable. But I know if she were early stage and given what I have seen, I would advocate throwing everything and the kitchen sink at her cancer.

Is that too radical? (I might just be thinking this out of personal experience and not reality)

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Good questions to ask.

In my 14 year journey with cancers I have seen a lot of changes. And I thank God that medical science keeps testing and learning. It does get nuts when protocol changes, but I am glad scientists are still studying.

First breast cancer, stage one, no chemo required, but it was an option I chose not to take, and that was after two opinions.

When I got a new breast cancer I took the chemo then. Did I question my decision not to have chemo the first time? For about 5 minutes.

With the lung cancer, stage 1A, I got opinions from an oncologist and a pulminologist, both saying no chemo. when the later studies came out saying chemo was an option for stage 1, my oncologist said if i came into his office as a new patient, he STILL wouldn't recommend it.

I think it comes down to personal decisions. There are no guarentees either way.


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My mother at age 45 was diagnosed with Breastcancer.

Very tiny lump.

She had double mastechtomy. Her doctors thought was her breast tissue was predisposed. She'd get this lump and with and tissue left she'd probably get it in the other or in the same breast again.

So mom's comical line was, "I want to hold my grandchildren, not breast feed them." Of course there is a certain kick in the teeth about that saying now...but that is for another thread.

Point is, 10 years later, my mother had never had a recurrance...her LC was a separate issue. But she beat the breast cancer.

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Back when Mom was treated for cervical cancer her only options were surgery and radiation treatment or radiation treatment alone. Now, chemo is used for cervical cancer more and more often along with surgery and radiation. It's amazing what a few years will do for research and treatments!!

I tend to agree that if I were to have to make that decision, I'd probably opt for chemo if it were available to me but I don't think that would be something everyone would choose.

Very interesting subject!!

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I have a dear dear friend that had a lumpectomy and radiation treatments for breast cancer about two years ago. She did not receive any chemo. Today she is on her 4th week in the hospital with a cancer that they have yet to declare primary or secondary. The removed her ovaries, drained liters of fluid from her stomache area, has blood clots in her lungs. They found more cancer in her when the did the hysterectomy but said it was more than they would be able to remove so they have now started a very aggressive chemo that she receives once every three weeks. I am sure she will ALWAYS wonder if she had received chemo following the lumpectomy if this would be happening to her now. Does no good to second guess and all I try to do is keep her spirits up. Have I mentioned that I HATE cancer???

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Agreed. I sure don't think any good will come out of the what if's.

Fortunately, I focus a lot on action and what I need to do to change a problem rather than lament on what caused it.

But that same side of my personality also means that I give tremendous thought to all of the potential scenarios and always decide on the most radical, proactive approach.

This is why I think I need to keep myself in check. 3 out of 4 of my Grandparents died of cancer (even the 4th we believe did, but not completely confirmed) - that's a pretty strong family history. And then with the folks I've seen around me, I realize that for me (and this is a very personal and individual decision, I know), any less than a radical approach would leave me agonized.

I'm a worry wart! :(

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