Thursday, April 23, 2009

How long have Triple Negative Tumors been around?

Less than 3 years.

Back in September when I was told that my tumor was triple negative, I drew a blank: I never had heard of the term before even though I am fairly well read and breast cancer articles have always sparked my interest as I perceived myself to be 'high risk" especially after a breast cancer scare 9 years ago. When my mom had breast cancer in 1991, I immediately read all I could to help her make a decision (which in the end, she refused to make so I made it for her). From what I gathered, breast cancer was divided into two camps: estrogen positive-more common for the post-menopausal ladies and highly treatable and estrogen negative-not very treatable and most common among premenopausal ladies. Whether the cancer had spread or not was directly correlated to tumor size: at 2.5 cm her tumor was 'borderline'. I don't think they ever graded her tumor but they did see if it had estrogen receptors. I don't think she had a full lymph node dissection. They sampled her nodes randomly and they were negative. Breast conservation had just begun as a concept and that's what I decided for her. She had 6 weeks of radiation and took tamoxifen for 5 years and that was it. Previous to breast cancer, she took Prem-pro for 20 years after a hysterectomy. I assume she stopped taking it when she got BC but I am not sure.
The prognosis program-Ad***ant- (I don't want the makers googling me) predicts your survival based on age, tumor size, your general health, tumor grade, type of therapy (in my case 'third generation") and whether your tumor is estrogen positive. Nothing about whether you are Her2 negative (the third negative of 'triple negative'-the second negative-progestin is not so important). In general, 30% of BC tumors have this marker and they are super aggressive. It is not clear to me how many estrogen negative tumors also are her2 positive. I am guessing more than 30%. Herceptin has been around for 11 years to treat metastatic her2 positive breast cancer but it has only been approved to be used since 2006 in early her2 pos BC to prevent metastasis. So the triple negative label was not used before 2006 I just learned today. The Ad888ant data to predict one's survival in ten years thus is not based on what is happening today as those her2 pos ladies are lumped together with us and who up to 2006, were under treated (except those in clinical trials). Also it is not clear how long the 'third generation chemo' has been used for early BC-the main component in question being the Taxol. I assume the 'fourth generation chemo' will include Avastin or maybe carboplatin.

Again I am grasping at straws trying to convince myself that my odds are much better than what the program spat out. Also in contention was lumping me in the 3-5 cm category instead of the 2-3 cm, which my surgeon had. My tumor was barely 3 cm but they put me in the larger category because I had a 2nd tumor.

My new hair is absolutely clear colored and at best is 3 mm long. This is what I would have on my legs 3 days without shaving and that would NOT be clear colored. No new hair any place else and I am probably still losing the upper lashes. It has been more than 6 weeks since chemo.

I bought more solar lights for my patio the other day including a string of stars that I strung in the neighbor's arborvitae that shades one side of my patio. Until I can put more flowers in, I will have to be content with all my color changing lights at night. Little things.

The weather went from sunny to hail storm and back again several times yesterday but I did get an easy run in. I spent part of the day with Brenda in part celebrating my birthday and now have more flowers for my patio. I went back to the rad place to schedule my follow-ups. I won't go back there until November though I see the onc in August.

After my LiveStrong class today, I have teacher conferences-the last ever. I better hear some good news there.

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