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Breast Cancer

(89 Posts)
granmouse Tue 17-May-11 15:33:18

I am just 4 and a half years past my dx of bc.I had chemo and radio therapy and found it very hard but am now almost back to normal albeit with no eyebrows and much reduced stamina.My dx coincided with the birth of my daughter's first child and it was so frustrating to be so ill for his first few months.I've made up for it since though!
My cancer was found through a routine mammo so dont forget to keep those appointments!
Anyone else in a similar situation?

polly Thu 27-Oct-11 18:12:15

Hi gracesmum

Yes it does sound very neurotic to have had a private mammo! I've had a history on my left boob: chronic mastitis with our daughter, permanent thickening of tissue as a result, needle biopsy (clear - but walnut sized lump appeared over 4 days full of liquid), surgical removal of thickened tissue (benign) oh boring boring - but always it has ached from time to time. My other boob is as good as gold. I think of them as non-identical twins: the good boring one and the naughty little sister.

So, mid-June I was feeling so happy - our grand daughter + mum and dad staying with us whilst their kitchen was being done, our son and d-in-law about to have their first, our daughter & s-in-law expecting another. And one aching boob. So I went to the GP who said there was NOTHING wrong but that, for "people like me" (middle class, SW London, neurotic) they could fix me up with a private mammo ..... would I like this?

Bingo! 1 cm, early early, lymph glands ok but my FISH test came back with the unwelcome news that it's an aggressive sort. Lumpectomy, 6 weeks' radio and am now 3/4 of the way through chemo before starting Herceptin for a year.

Ladeez, don't miss your mammo!!!!! It has, quite literally, saved my life. I may be bald but I'm going to be a gran for a long time yet.

JessM Tue 01-Nov-11 11:48:30

I just looked up what Cochrane Collaboration actually said:

This means that for every 2000 women invited for screening throughout 10 years, one will have her life prolonged. In addition, 10 healthy women, who would not have been diagnosed if there had not been screening, will be diagnosed as breast cancer patients and will be treated unnecessarily. Furthermore, more than 200 women will experience important psychological distress for many months because of false positive findings.

This site is the best place to look for impartial reviews whether it is mainstream or alternative health info you are looking at.

A sobering quote.
Is there anyone here who had a lump picked up by a ROUTINE mammo rather than one investigating symptoms you had noticed?

If polly if your GP had just trusted your judgement and referred you to the NHS then that would have been diagnosed just as promptly. Slightly strange thing to do maybe? But better than a total brush off...
Anyway good luck with the treatment. It is great that they have got it while it was still so tiny. smile

northerngran Tue 01-Nov-11 11:56:25

Mishap - a similar thing happened to a friend of mine - totally clear mammogram then within a few weeks a lump which turned out to be aggressive BC. Agree that self examination is vital. (She is doing very well 4 years later by the way)

Elegran Tue 01-Nov-11 12:35:53

Yes JessM I had a lump picked up on a mammogram which I had no symptoms of whatsoever.

In fact I expected the mammograms to stop when I was 65, but a couple of months before my 66th birthday I got the usual invitation and appointment - it had been extended to 70. So I turned up for flattening as usual, was not even looking out for the results, as I had never had any problems.

I was recalled to the clinic for a closer look - maybe technical problems, I thought. A repeat was inconclusive so they gave me an ultrasound scan, and then I learnt that there was an "anomaly" which could be a small tumour. I biopsy proved that to be the case and it was malignant, and removed successfully.

I am quite generously boobed, and the tumour was quite deep, so I would not have noticed it until it was pretty big.

Keep up the mammograms, I say. If the big C were not such a bogeyman, but just another medical problem to be found and dealt with early on, people would not be so distressed.

Ariadne Tue 01-Nov-11 18:40:12

Polly - how's it going? Chemo is awful, isn't it? But, better than not having it, I feel! You're so right about mammograms too; part of my Work with Cancer Research UK is educating / convincing women to take advantage of them, as well as "look, touch, feel". Do hope you're coping - sounds as if you are. xx

JessM Tue 01-Nov-11 20:59:16

oh interesting elegran - you are that woman in 2000...
I wonder ariadne if touch-look-feel works a lot better for us moderately boobed rather than generously boobed? I wonder if anyone has ever done a study?

Ariadne Wed 02-Nov-11 16:04:43

I wondered that too. I lost about 4 stone 12years ago ( that's 5 years before I had BC) and have often wondered if I'd have found the lump when I was "bigger". Mind you, I'm still generously endowed - apart from a missing bit now! smile

JessM Wed 09-Nov-11 13:51:30

Interesting article here about possible future development in detecting and treating breast lumps.

Elegran Wed 09-Nov-11 18:11:05

Very interesting.

Faye Thu 10-Nov-11 00:20:36

Jess I wonder if it's along the line of radiowave therapy.

JessM Thu 10-Nov-11 08:59:56

Faye I have to say at a 1 min glance this looks fishy. The references do not appear to refer to radiowave therapy.
What is your contact with this establishment?

Faye Thu 10-Nov-11 10:38:29

About four years ago there was a lot of interest about Dr Holt on television in Australia. If you watch Ray Martin's segment about him, that was part of it. Ray Martin is a well known journalist in Australia and I don't think he would ruin his reputation by doing a story on someone that is not sincere.

What if this was a cure for cancer and it has been ignored, or if there were other cures for cancer and those people had been treated as Dr Holt has been?

Elegran Thu 10-Nov-11 10:50:56

Here is someone else who used that therapy.

According to Quackwatch
"There is no scientific evidence exposure to magnetic fields is effective against cancer, that cancer cells respond differently than normal cells to a magnetic field, or that the magnetic field produced by the clinic's device can cause any cell to implode.

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices used for medical diagnosis use radiofrequency waves, a very strong magnetic field, and a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body. The patient is placed inside a large magnetic coil. When the magnetic field is turned on, it causes hydrogen nuclei (protons) within the body to line up in one direction. Then selected radiofrequency waves flip these particles in another direction. When the waves are turned off, the particles realign, releasing an electromagnetic signal that the computer translates into an image. The procedure produces no known permanent effect on cell structure or function. It may show the presence of a cancer by producing shadows that represent tumor masses. But it cannot detect any difference between normal and cancer cells at the cellular level.

If magnetic fields were capable of killing cells, MRI devices might seriously damage the patient's body. Furthermore, even if powerful magnetic fields could kill cancer cells, there is no reason to believe that the clinic's device—which had a much weaker magnetic field—could have had the same ability."

There is such a drive to find a cure for cancer that I really think that if this therapy had a chance of true success, it would have been picked up eagerly by one of the many genuine researchers.

Faye Thu 10-Nov-11 11:33:45

Quackwatch...I am sure they have all the information at their fingertips. confused

JessM Thu 10-Nov-11 17:53:36

Well yes Faye, Quackwatch are dedicated to watching out for scams that defraud desperate people. The world is, unfortunately, full of them.
Journalists give uncritical air time to these folk on a regular basis.
The website says that the retired Dr Holt treated thousands of patients but there is no actual research to say what his success rates were or that it works. If it did, he would have published his results and oncologists all over the world would be using it.
They talk about research they are going to do but not anything that has been done and there are lots of vague misleading phrases.
It would not be hard to this method test on mice. There are thousands of experiments done on cancers in mice every day.

I just read an excellent book about cancer research which I have reviewed on Gransnet.

Faye Thu 10-Nov-11 19:09:11

Dr Holt is not a quack, he was a leading cancer specialist before setting up his own clinic. What type of organisation is Quackwatch? Who is Stephen Barrett and what are his qualifications?

Elegran Thu 10-Nov-11 19:36:27

His qualifications and his reasons for starting Quackwatch are all on the website.

JessM Thu 10-Nov-11 20:25:16

Faye - you are reacting very strongly. Do you have some personal connection to Holt.
Quackwatch is extremely well thought of by many (see the Wikipaedia entry) - except by those who he has exposed of course, who are on the attack.

There is a tried and tested route to getting new ideas accepted. You collect data, meticulously. You present papers at conferences and publish your results in journals. You go out of your way to share what you have discovered.

These websites just don't look right to me - they lack any evidence, unless i am failing to find it. Can you point me to a study that shows that this method works?

Elegran Thu 10-Nov-11 21:58:23

Faye asks whether the development that Jess refers to is along the same lines at radiowave therapy. The "About radiowave therapy" page on the site Faye has linked to says "Radiowave therapy is not a microwave treatment and nor is any therapeutic affect hypothermic."

I do wonder if they meant to say "hyperthermic" as that is what is mentioned in the microwave report. Hypothermic is extreme cold, not extreme heat, which is what one would associate with microwaves.

Faye Fri 11-Nov-11 03:30:04

I think it's fine if we don't agree but it's good to know what else others are doing regarding cancer treatment.

I always found the radio waves interesting and am hopeful there will one day be a cure for cancer. Apparently they are doing research on radio waves at the John Hopkins School of Medicine.

My mother was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer about two months ago and my father died from cancer of the prostate which eventually spread to his bones. My father really suffered and had radiation burns from the treatment and apparently if it is left, especially in older men the cancer is slow growing.

'A 10 year follow up study of men with early prostate cancer left untreated showed that 10 years later only 8.5 per cent of the 223 patients had died from prostate cancer. The survival rate of 86.8 per cent in the untreated group was nearly identical to a subgroup who met all the conditions for radical prostatectomy.'

I do feel very suspicious of pharmaceutical companies who make billions out of cancer treatment. Also Stephen Barrett apparently has had a lot of court cases judged against him.

I just received a phone call from my youngest daughter saying she is back in hospital and she has no idea if her baby will be now born in the next few days or on the 25th of this month when she is to have a cesarean. I think I best go and start packing. I am meant to visit my mother this weekend so my sister can have a break. I have been helping my SIL to look after my granddaughters all this week as my daughter is away in Melbourne with the year 10 drama students. I thought a grandmother's life is supposed to be a bit slower than this. smile

bagitha Fri 11-Nov-11 06:45:13

Two queries: (1) why is the word 'affect' used when it should, I believe, be 'effect'? and (2) why can't I find a definition of either hypothermic or hyperthermic?

The word 'twaddle' is swimming around in my sceptical brain at the moment. Like jess, I would want more hard evidence of a treatment's success before using it myself. Nothing wrong with placebos of course.

JessM Fri 11-Nov-11 08:26:30

PHew Faye you have got a lot on your plate. Hope the birth goes well.
yes Barratt has I believe been targeted by disgruntled CAM practitioners who, unlike scientists, do not welcome criticism of their methods.
Every possibility is interesting in this field but all these folk seem to have done is put a proposal forward to JHopkins to fund some preliminary research. But still there is a clinic taking money from people!
We use many parts of the electromagnetic spectrum in medicine so there will probably be others discovered. But they need to be investigated methodically for efficacy and safety before you start opening clinics.

I think the advances in cancer treatments are going to come on the back of decades of fundamental research into cancer genetics. I do recommend The Emperor of All the Maladies (see my review) to anyone who wants to understand where we are with all this.It is a long read but interesting and not too heavy going.

hyper always means high and hypo low, they obviously got confused...

Elegran Fri 11-Nov-11 09:41:30

Any research into ways of treating cancer is welcome, but like Jess I think that the solid paths of in vitro, animal, then double-blind human trials should be followed before a new therapy is unleashed onto the trusting public.

And full details should be available of these trials and of the long-term statistics of patient response - not just the miracle-cure successes. Cancer can return when it seems to have been banished, and it is not usually the primary cancer that kills, but the secondaries.

Ariadne Fri 11-Nov-11 09:41:35

Breast Cancer Campaign (only research BC) have established a tissue bank to help their ongoing research; this is a great way forward for this particular cancer. But it is all so scary, especially when you've been through it. Lots of people have their pet theories - so do I - but they are ours and suit us. Our cancers were ours alone, and one size doesn't fit all when discussing ideas.

rosienanna Sat 12-Nov-11 23:18:29

a very strange thing happened on Thursday night..i was reading a story of a young lady and her blog about her bc at aged i was reading ..i felt an itch and a very hot feeling in my left i gave it a bit of a scratch...i felt a large hard lump....i already have a fybrodemea in the right one...
went to the doctors on Friday morning and she was a 'thickening' both breasts are very painful...very much so...(i do not self examine)
i am in my 60's and i am terrified! in the day i am not so bad..its the evenings..i think its a two week wait to be seen.
also strange, i will be going to a meeting on Tuesday evening to try and help save our oncology from being moved to a most unsuitable site ..a distance away...