Monday, November 23, 2009

Breast issues

Recently there was a research report about after surgery/radiation breast pain. Apparently even up to 2 years after treatment, 47% of women report persistant breast pain; half of these report it as severe. Apparently surgery and/or radiation inflames the nerve resulting in neuropathic pain. NSAIDs are ineffective against this type of pain. I still have pain too but I would rate it a one on a scale of zero to ten. It concerns me mainly because in my mind, breast pain could mean the return of cancer along with the lumpiness and hardness I feel. But apparently, this is the new 'normal' for me-hard, lumps in a painful breast as I was just checked out and found to be 'cancer-free' at least in my breasts.

One of the 'myths' of cancer is that if you have a lesion that is painful, it is not cancer. From what I read on boards, it seems that at least half of women report that their tumor was painful.

And the big issue of last week: the recommended stopping of screening for breast cancer in women 40-50 as there are too many false positives. Since this came out, the major insurers have all promised to keep paying for mammograms for this age group but we'll see how long they will keep that up. 1.6% of women in this age group develop breast cancer (source Merck Manual).Unfortunately, it is more likely to be the more aggressive, non-hormone dependent type that could kill if not stopped early. Once a woman reaches menopause, her breast cancer is more likely to be the slow growing, estrogen dependent type that one might get a way with screening for every 2 years (I am the exception to this-a mammogram found my aggressive non-hormone dependent cancer relatively early and probably saved my life). I read many blogs and most of these ladies are much younger than myself; it isn't just an old lady's disease. These are women who are still raising their children. It is true that many of these women discovered their lumps themselves but in some cases, it was by mammogram. I guess it all boils down to how much a life is worth. What is needed is a develpment of a marker that is more reliable and cheaper than mammograms such as the breast aspirate that Susan Love's crew is working on.

I posted more pictures on my blogs for the past week now that I have more time to be on the computer.

1 comment:

Holly said...

Hi Sue - I experience daily pain in my radiated 'bad' breast and neurpathic pain in my feet, and to a lesser degree, my hands. I am 2plus years post treatment....this has been a surprise to me...


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