Thank you so much girls. You have been such a great help. I would keep all the advice in mind and definitely follow the advice too. Infact I would like to ask you another question , My right hand occasionally swells up and it takes couple of days for it to get better. I have spoken to my surgeon - he says it is fine as lymph nodes have been removed. I understand this but I was just wondering how can I reduce this . Hand becomes very heavy. Also I have lot of water retention in my body. Is there a way to reduce? cheers
I'm sorry you had to go through chemo and rads. Ick, right? Been there, done that. You are 40? Have you had BRCA 1 & 2 genetic mutations for breast cancer? This blood test should be covered by your insurance company and I highly recommend you contact a BRCA savvy genetic counselor, available at ANY respectable hospital and let them discuss your risks with you. This is important for your siblings, children, cousins etc and the mutation can be passed down by the paternal and/or maternal side. When the mutation is present, depending on which mutation (if you have one) presents, Breast cancer risks can be 87%. That is way out of range for the normal person. Ovarian cancer and other cancer risks can also be higher with the mutation. It's something you do want to know especially since you are a survivor. You may want to take a look at some of the studies and information on FORCE, www.facingourrisk.org. There is a lot of information there for young women facing cancer diagnosis and shows what types of studies are going on and all of the info from the most recent ASCO conference.
Since you've had a BC diagnosis, chemo, radiation and mastectomy, you should have a yearly mammogram and ultra sound on your left breast and SHOULD have a yearly MRI so they can get a good look at your remaining breast and chest wall of the right side. I have this done every 6 months. Do not miss any appointments. I also have a PET scan yearly to make sure it has not spread. And don't forget the all important monthly self breast examinations. You didn't mention if you had reconstruction or not and depending on what type you have your doctor may recommend a different follow up.
Please check into your BRCA status. For you. For your extended family.
Best wishes :)
The reason they don't do a lot of routine tests is also for this reason. When you are first diagnosed with cancer, they treat you very aggressively because this is the best chance to cure the cancer, and timing matters a lot. (I mean, how early on your cancer is found and treated)
But should the cancer come back in the form of metastisis, it is not that important that this is detected immediately or not as it makes no real difference. So, a lot of testing is anxiety provoking and costly, and a lot of time the benefits are not so meaningful.
On the other hand, with local recurrence this you want to detect ASAP and for that reason you will need to do self breast exams, your doctor will examine you at every visit, and you will have the mammograms.
Usually, they don't do any routine testing aside from blood work, and yearly mammogram, at this point unless you have symptoms, OR, if anything on a prior test looked suspicious.
If you end up having radiation, they will do a CT scan, not for diagnostic purposes, but to make sure the radiation is accurately matched to your body. Of course, even if the test is not diagnostic, something unusual will show up.
In that case also, you will have a brand new doctor, a radiation Oncologist and whom you will see every week and otherwise nurse. (this may be slightly different depending on location)
It is very common that during this period following surgery and chemo that you are in, you will experience some unusual symptoms and that you will then fear is your cancer coming back. (the next few months may be hard and you may feel very vulnerable and stressed, but this will go away) So for that reason alone they may do some tests.
Also, I had a lot of stuff which I think was from the Tamoxifen, like joint pain and hot flashes, and more.