Fear of Breast Cancer Returning
It is very common to fear that breast cancer will return. Most women do not have a recurrence, but a small number of women do experience a return of breast cancer in the same site or a new site. When breast cancer returns it does not seem fair.
If Breast Cancer Returns
Many women say that facing cancer the first time around was one of the hardest things they have ever had to do. Women who have a recurrence of breast cancer often feel angry and afraid. It does not seem fair that a disease they fought so hard to destroy would come back.
If you have had some of these thoughts, you are not alone. Never give up hope that you will live a long life. Make a plan for treating your cancer and find a support group for women who have had a recurrence of breast cancer.
Your cancer is less likely to recur if:
- You had no or few cancerous lymph nodes found during surgery.
- Your breast cancer was found early and was small.
- You had adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy / hormone therapy) along with surgery.
- You have lived 5 to 10 years without a recurrence.
Facts about recurrence:
- Many recurrences are limited to the breast and can be completely removed by surgery.
- Nearly 33% of recurrences are found by mammography;
- About 50% of recurrences are found by physical exam; and
- About 20% are found by both methods.
- About 75% of women who treat a local recurrence by having a total mastectomy are disease-free 5 years later.
Starting a new treatment plan:
- Learn as much as you can about the location and characteristics of the recurrence. It will help you decide what your treatment options are.
- Find an advocate who will support you and help you to weigh your options. You do not have to face this situation alone.
- Pick your medical team and get a second opinion on your treatment options.
- Choose your treatment goal whether it be a cure, prolonging your life, relief of symptoms or maintaining your quality of life for as long as possible.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure (National Headquarters)
1.800.I’M AWARE www.komen.org
National Cancer Institute
1.800.4 CANCER www.cancer.gov
American Cancer Society
Living Beyond Breast Cancer