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metastatic breast cancer: you and your oncologist

Posted Mar 03 2010 12:00am

Looking for new information on research for cancer, and, of course, particularly, metastatic breast cancer leads one to a smorgasbord of articles. As I wrote recently, there is a preponderance of misinformation circulating on the Internet, and it is wise to do some research when you find an article or receive an e-mail that seems even a little suspicious. It makes me laugh when I receive one of these articles that claim outrageous results: if there were a tea or water or supplement that could cure us of this stupid disease, wouldn’t that be news for the entire scientific community–news for the world. I doubt it would be communicated by a chain letter e-mail with multiple exclamation points.

For MBC, treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, biological therapy and hormonal therapy. While early detection of primary breast cancer has had a significant and positive effect on survival, with breast cancer metastasis, however, there is no cure, though there are a growing number of stage IV survivors celebrating ten years since metastasis. Reading the statistics is usually depressing, suggesting that survival past two or five years is not common. I may read the stats, but I don’t care what they say.

Besides other factors that are yet a mystery, probably one of the better chances of survival is having an oncologist who, first, specializes in metastatic disease and, second, is not bound to a passive application of therapy. In other words, some oncologists think outside the box and consider the individual characteristics of your own cancer before suggesting a course of therapy. Always communicate with your oncologist and find out what the course of your treatment might be based on your oncologist’s ongoing assessment of your cancer. Ask questions about information you find from other sources, friends, other MBC warriors, the Internet. If your oncologist is not communicative, consider switching to another. Look for oncologists at medical centers with an established cancer center. Find one with whom you can communicate, who answers your questions, welcomes your queries from your own research and who gets to know you and your history. You will find this relationship will become one of the most important relationships you’ll have.

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© 2004-2010 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.
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