Relapse Still a Real Possibility for Breast Cancer Survivors
August 13, 2008 4:27pm CST
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that once patients make it to the five-year mark without a single relapse, approximately 89% are disease free five years later at the ten-year mark and 80% at the fifteen-year mark. While this is great news for those that live under the constant fear of the return of Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer can return ten, twenty even thirty years later. What the report the Journal of the National Cancer Institute took into consideration was whether cancer spread to the lymph nodes; the tumor size; and whether the cancer is fueled by the hormone estrogen. Each doctor needs to factor this into individual patients' risk of relapse and when he/she's more likely to have a recurrence. Surviors whose tumors grow in the presence of Estrogen, which is the most common type of Breast Cancer, seem to have fewer recurrences within the first five years. BUT are much more likely to relapse a decade later. In addition, allegedly, protective effects of antiestrogen drugs (tamoxifen, etc.) can persist for 15 years after a person stops taking them. So perhaps the recurrences in these survivors occur after the fifteen-year mark the Journal of the National Cancer Institute didn't take into consideration. For all survivors all these things need to be discussed with their treating doctors to ensure optimum health.