My mother was diagnosed with BC in 2004 at the age of 50. She ended up having a double mastectomy and started chemo. The results of the surgery were that her tumor was 5cm, was NOT in her nodes, but HER2 levels were high. After 6 months of chemo and a PETScan, we found out that her cancer had spread to her pelvic area (in the bones). They started her on hormonal therapy which seemed to have shrunk the cancer. Roughly a year later, her cancer was making an appearance again in the same spot on the bones. They once again changed her treatment. It just so happens that this particular treatment has been keeping my mothers cancer at bay. It hasn't shrunk, but it hasn't grown any either. However, this treatment has a side effect where it can eat away at your jaw bone which is a one in a million shot. Well, my mother is that one in a million. Sure enough they stopped her treatment for 3 months and sent her for another PETscan. The scan came back great from neck down, BUT they saw some "wishy washy" spots on the brain. Needless to say, the next day she went for an MRI and sure enough....cancer. They started her on steroids and radiation right away. Full brain radiation every day for 3 weeks. They say that the tumors happen to be all over her brain with the biggest one being maybe 1 inch. They also say that this is incurable, but their optimistic that these tumors will shrink, but never go away and they will stay dormant for a while before they start making their presence known. Her oncologist was originally surprised because supposedly this isn't the normal pattern of breast cancer. And all I hear from her doctors are "Do you feel ok? You look great." So what does that mean? They haven't given my mother a "timeline" on her life, but from everything I've researched, her prognosis isn't good. What should I expect?????
The presence of cancer in the brain can severely limit overall outcomes, survival and quality of daily life.
Bear in mind that these are only estimates from other patients in general, which would include those who are very ill and those who are without symptoms, so the closest of these estimates would have to be based on specific characteristics your mom has (estimates would be best done by her oncologist).
If the largest size of the metastasis is 1 cm, you can expect a good response from radiation. About half of patients in this group would reach about 6 months before the problems in the brain return (this may be anything from seizures to excess sleep, to headaches). If your mother is able to carry out her daily activities - this is to her advantage, as her chances of improvement and survival would be better, she would have a good chance of reaching a year or more.
Try to take it a day at a time. Be open minded and perhaps start a dialogue on expectant management when symptoms return.
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