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Breast Cancer to pancreas
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Breast Cancer to pancreas

My wife has been told that her pancreatic cancer is from her breast cancer.  She had the breast cancer 7 years ago.  I read the following from your archive.  I am worried-is her pancreatic cancer not curable? I thought it was because of the breast cancer connection.

Qustn Posted By: SisterSuz, Sat, Oct 13, 2001

My sister has been diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer. The new site is her pancreas. I am looking for further information on the disease but am currently confused if I should be looking under breast cancer or pancreatic cancer. The hospital advises she has 6-8 months tops. I am looking for information on whether there are any survivors of this and if not, what is the best way to ensure her quality of life for the remaining time she has left. Any help at all will be appreciated.

Ansr Posted By: CCF-RN,MSN-JS, Mon, Oct 15, 2001

Dear SisterSuz, Metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the pancreas would be treated as breast cancer. The goals of treatment for breast cancer that has metastasized are focused toward controlling the disease and preventing or treating symptoms of the disease rather than cure of the disease. Keeping these goals in mind treatment recommendations are based on such things as the estrogen receptor status of the tumor, your sister
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Dear Edhusband:  Part of the answer to your question lies in the definition of the word "cure."  Cure means that all the disease is gone and there is little to no concern about it coming back.  Remission is a word that is more comfortable to use.  Remission means that all signs of active cancer are gone.  There is always an understanding that there is a possibility that the disease can come back.

Metastatic breast cancer means that the cancer has spread outside the organ of origin and that it is no longer localized.  Once cancer has spread, it is more difficult to treat in most cases.  In other words, the probability of making all the cancer go away is lower than if the cancer had not spread.  This means that the focus is on shrinking the cancer as much as possible to relieve symptoms and extend life.  Of course, optimally, it would be good if all the cancer went away.  

In your wifes case, in the hierarchy of treatment success probabilities, the best case scenario would be for the cancer not to have spread at all.  The fact that the cancer in her pancreas is from the breast actually may make treatment a little easier than if this were a new second cancer of the pancreas.  Breast cancer responds better to chemotherapy than does pancreas cancer.
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cancer is "named" by the organ from which it originates. Breast cancer is cancer that formed in the breast; if it spreads, whether to bone, lung, or elsewhere, it's still breast cancer. When a cancer spreads, in most cases it is not curable; but it often can be held in check for a very long time -- many years is a possibility. So, if it is indeed the case that the cancer that was found in her pancreas is the breast cancer she had before, it's breast cancer, not pancreatic cancer. And, having spread from her breast, the goal of treatment would generally be to contain it, arrest it, slow it down -- but to expect cure is very unlikely.
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have a silly question.  had mastectomy 1995  and recent mets to spine.  Do I still need frequent mammography  as the cancer is being treated and if it spread to other breast would be treated anyway?  What about PAP  I had hysterectomy many years ago  no cervix left. Thanks.
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This is of interest to me because I had a mastectomy last year (April 2002)  and my year scan this spring  and xrays etc. were all clear, but I was found with an enlarged pancreas. Nothing was seen wrong with my pancreas, except it was larger than last year.  No mass was seen...it looked paerectly normal except the body was quite enlarged.  I will have another ST scan in October.
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A related discussion, breastcancerspreadtopancreas was started.
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