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Late Recurrences

Posted 9/22/2014

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  The good news about breast cancer is that there are effective treatments and many women go on to live long and healthy lives about diagnosis and treatment. The bad news about breast cancer is that it can, especially certain subtypes, recur years or even decades later. The "five years and you are cured" scenario does not apply to us.

  There are a limited number of possible outcomes for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. These include: living cancer free for an indefinite period of time and then having a recurrence, living cancer free for an indefinite period of time and then developing a second cancer (that is what happened to me, 12 years after the first cancer), living cancer free for the rest of life, having pretty steady treatment without a cancer free period for all of life. Of course, none of us knows which of these cards we have drawn.

  This is a sobering but important article about late recurrences from American Journal of Managed Care. I give you an excerpt and a link to read more:

Recurrence of Breast Cancer Years After the Initial Tumor
Marj P. Zimmerman, MS, BSPharm; and Stanton R. Mehr

Up to one-fifth of breast cancer survivors
will experience a recurrence.8 The
rate of recurrence at 10 years has declined
since the 1980s and 1990s, when
it ranged from 8% to 19%, to 2% to 7%
in the past decade, depending on multiple
factors. Whether a breast cancer
survivor experiences a recurrence can
depend on age at initial diagnosis, genetic
background, what stage the cancer
is at diagnosis, receptor type, histologic
and nuclear grade of tumor, and how the
original tumor was treated.6,8
Recurrence, which may not necessarily
be the same tumor reappearing, can
be 1 of 3 types9:
• Local recurrence. Cancer recurrence
is in the same localized area
of the breast (ipsilateral) as the
first tumor, or in the mastectomy
scar. When breast cancer appears
in a different quadrant of the breast
from the original tumor or in the
other breast (contralateral), it is usually
a new tumor.10
• Regional recurrence. The cancer is
in nearby lymph nodes (eg, under
the arm or around the collarbone).
• Distant recurrence. The cancer appears
in another part of the body
that is some distance from the original
site (eg, bone marrow, lungs,
liver, brain).


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