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What is the typical breast cancer life expectancy?

30 answers | Last updated: Jul 26, 2014
Q
Rosana asked...
I am 58 years old and have stage IIIA breast cancer. I don't want to receive any kind of treatment because of my own believes and because I have seen how my father, mother and sister felt after receiving chemotherapy. What is my life expectancy and what is the worse thing that can happen to me beside dying?
 

Answers
Caring.com User - Dan Tobin, M.D.
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Dan Tobin, M.D. is the CEO of Care Support of America, a national service providing telephonic and local nurse counsel to adult children...
28% helpful
answered...

Hi:

Life expectancy with not treating your breast cancer is something you should ask your doctor. It is certainly your choice how to treat your cancer and it is important that others are respectful of your choices. It will be helpful to get emotional support and practical guidance when facing dying. I admire your courage and to face advanced illness and end of life issues straight on.

All the best

Dan Tobin

 

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55% helpful
Rosana answered...

Thank you for your answer Mr. Tobin. I am also greatful for respecting my choice on how to live and how to confront my illness. Is better to confront the end of life issues straight on and not to be scared, I believe that there is a better life and I am not afraid. Once again, thank your for taking the time on answering my question.

 

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DonnaLou57 answered...

I was dx with stage lllA breast cancer 8 years ago. I know that I felt like you do and did not want to go through all the treatments that were planned for me. I respect your wishes but I wish you would really check out the treatment plans today compared to 8 years ago. I went through all my treatments and I will tell you it was hard, but with the help of God and my husband and family and friends I got through it. The alternitive to living is death and you said you were not scared, but what about your family? I am sure they love you and do not want to see you die. There has been so many changes since I went through treatment I would not be afraid to do this again. So many meds out there to help with the vomiting and other pains you might have. If you do nothing, you will probably die and I don't think it will be an easy death. I have lost too many friends and watching them die was horrible, I pray that you will check out all you can because knowledge is power. God Bless Donna Lou

 

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Aju answered...

When cancer has been surgically removed, you may have a 50 or 60% chance of survival for a ten year period with no further treatment. Chemo can add an additional 10%. People are under the false assumption that chemo is the cure all. If they survive, they will credit chemo, when in effect they may have lived without it. They pay no attention to the actual statistics. The chemo can have more side effects than the actual risk from the cancer. Think positive, eat well, and ignore the thought of breast cancer. I just completed a four cycle regimin of TC for an early breast cancer to satisfy my family. The recommendation was an aggressive eight cycle of TAC. I took a conservative root, and suffered from every side effect possible. My positive attitute stems from the fact that I believe it was caught on time and that it will never return. After radiation, I will never turn the page and move on to forget this horrible experience.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

Donna Lou is correct (though blunt) in many of her statements, I feel, especially "The alternitive to living is death and you said you were not scared, but what about your family?" Because of my faith I too would know that what is waiting after death is not to be afraid of but I also know that God put doctors on earth to help during our troubled times. I have not been through what you are experiencing but have many friends and family who have. Watching a loved one go through the suffering is not easy for your family and especially for you. Why not try to help yourself and fight? I Care. God Bless.

 

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Courtneyll answered...

You do have the right to not treat. I honestly don't think family and friends wants are importent as your own feelings, this is just my personal feeling they dont have to sit for hours with poison going through them. Saying that I am glad I went through this I am a different person from this and feel this is God's plan. Honestly in 10 months i am healthy happy and doing things I love. Stage III is pretty far along, so depending on the aggressivness of your tumor will depend on how long you really have. I think the bigger question should be how long do you have before you can't live life how you enjoy it. You may be able to live months maybe years but how much of that time is going to be enjoyable?? God bless you in whatever you choose it's no ones choice but yours. Making a pro and cons list always helps me!!! Good luck!!!

 

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Rosana answered...

Thank you so much for all your answers and specially for caring. I am doing what makes me feel better right now, I am living and enjoy life better now than before maybe because I think that is not going to be easy later on, I thank God each day and I live being positive and not even thinking that I have breast cancer, I am trying to eat healthy and I am a very positive person. I lost my father, my sister, mother and including my pet with cancer so I am very familiarize with that disease and with the consequences and I was the one that keep on pushing my sister to do everything exactly what the doctors told her to do until one day she told me that she was tired, so believe me I know everything I need to know about cancer, I don't have family only friends and some of them understand my feelings and they respect my ideas another one will continue on trying for me to change my mind, I love them anyway. Thank you once again for your understanding, your answers and God bless you all. We all are fighting for a better life, the only thing is that we fight in different ways.

 

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Halyn answered...

I just watched my 60y/o cousin die from untreated breast cancer .. and it was not pretty. She lived for about 1 year after the diagnosis .. there was a lot of pain involved .. both physical and psychological. My suggestion is that you research the disease and familiarize yourself with its path .. use the diagnosis your doctor gave you .. then see if there is anything offered in the way of treatment that would fall within the parameters of your wishes. You might also wish to contact your local hospice group .. they are (in my experience anyway) extremely helpful. If you don't have family and your friends are going to help you .. they will need the support of this group towards the end. I wish you well .. and hope that this has been of some help.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

I am 59 years old, and was diagnosed at stage IIIC in January. I just completed 6 months of chemo and radiation. I experienced lymphedema from the mastectomy; hair loss, neuropathy, some nausea and some exhaustion, dry mouth and watery eyes from the chemo; and a painful radiation dermatitis from the radiation.

I have had wonderful and caring healthcare professionals who reacted with compassion to every one of my concerns or complaints--and the support of friends and family. I am looking forward to the positive outcome--whatever that is--once the radiation dermatitis disappears and the lymphedema eases. (I'm the kind of person who, if given a barn full of manure would start shoveling--because I'd know there had to be a pony in there, somewhere. SMILE!) A sense of humor has helped me get through most of the unpleasantness--and knowing that my God will see me through--whether I have 1 year or 50.

No one can or should decide for you. I can only share my outcome, knowing that stage IIIA is no death sentence. I am looking forward to doing some of those things with my family that I had thought I would put off for 10 years. I now realize that I may not have that many and NOW is the time to do them! A cancer diagnosis can do that for you.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

Rosana, first I'd like to say that all the responses here are good ones but I'd especially like to commend 'Anonymous' for her upbeat response to your question. I, too, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, opted for a partial mastectomy with chemo and 34 rounds of radiation. I learned too late that because I have CMT, a neurological disorder, and peripheral neuropathy, the chemo exacerbated all my existing problems. I became anemic and neutropenic and spent two months in the hospital recuperating and learning how to walk again. I've had one toe amputated due to a bone infection and have been plagued by several staph infections which have put me at risk for more amputations. A year ago I learned that the chemo had severely damaged my heart and left me with greatly reduced blood flow and congestive heart failure. Still ... I consider myself lucky to be alive, I thank God every day for staying with me and bringing me through this, and if I had to do it over again, I would opt to omit the chemo.

 

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Stormie answered...

at 58 I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a modified masectomy. I did not want to do the chemo/radiation thing. instead I contacted Dr Linus Pauling in Palo Alto CA. and followed his vitamin C therepy/mega vitamin suggestion. I am now 76 and am still in remission. I have lots of other problems but none related to the cancer. Good luck to you and God bless and be with you. Sincerely, Mary F

 

stitchymom answered...

I too was diagnosed with stage III. I do know that as the cancer progresses, there is often a great deal of pain associated with it. I had an agressive course of treatment that required 40 chemotherapies and 7 weeks of radiation. No one can tell you what to do, and I certainly would not know what I would do if the cancer came back for me. I have residual side effects like neuropathy etc. I can tell you this though, if your decision is to avoid treatment remember that life and death are in God's hands. Think though, if you have a loving family, that it is easy to choose not to be treated. The hard part is sticking around for those who be devastated at the loss of you in their lives. When a teenager chooses to end his life and pain, he/she chooses not to think about those who will devestated at the loss of his/her life. If in fact, your choice is strictly a religious one, then those left behind must respect your decision.

 

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wonder444 answered...

Hello Rosana

I too had stage IIIA breast cancer. (dx at the age of 42, I am now 63) My right breast, underlying muscle and 17 nodes was removed. After the surgery, I gather all reports, test results and slides for a second opinion by the Cancer Center at UCI. Dx was the same. From there I hit the books, talked to a friend who was in the field and then decided how I wanted to live my remaining days. It was easy for me since I am a firm believer it is not how long one lives but the quality of life one will have while they live. Plus I didn't want my family to see me sick from the chemo and all of the other side affects. I rejected the chemo knowing in my heart that was right for me. My doctor respected my choice as did my family. The one thing I do want to say, either way it is going to be a life and death decision. I have never second guessed myself and that is my wish for you. As for how long you will live no one knows for certain. For the first ten years I always thought I would not see the next Christmas. It is like living with a heart disease . . . you can live with it until old age or not. You just stay on top of it and go on the best you can. Having a respectful partnership with my doctors gives me some sense of contol over my life which also helps.

It is easy for me to joke around most of the time, which has worked well for myself. Love watching anything that brings a smile to my face and a chuckle across these lips of mine.

Just know you and only you can make that choice. Just make sure of the choice because it is you and only you that has to live with it. Besides, the older you are when dx the better chance you will have living into your senior years. Rosana, I am sending you hugs and my prayers.

 

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parensman answered...

Dear Rosana, You didn't say whether or not you had surgery. If you haven't...please do! I had a mastectomy almost 2 years ago for stage IIA breast cancer at age 46. I was amazed at how quickly I recovered and how little discomfort there was from the surgery. I had 4 treatments of A/C followed by 12 treatments of Taxol and 6 weeks of radiation. I don't know how long ago your family members were treated, but I can tell you things have changed...for the better! Yes I lost my hair...but it is only hair! I didn't have to shave my legs or pits and now it is back! I was tired...but I got some great sleep! I had some skin irritations....but now they are gone! I lost some weight....but I needed to! It wasn't a picnic to go thru it...but I would do it again if it meant living. Life is good and I am sure you have many people who love you and will support you! Please think this thru carefully....and check things out. Talk to more people who have been thru this....it isn't so bad. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!!!! God be with you in whatever you decide. Pam

 

parensman answered...

Dear Rosana, You didn't say whether or not you had surgery. If you haven't...please do! I had a mastectomy almost 2 years ago for stage IIA breast cancer at age 46. I was amazed at how quickly I recovered and how little discomfort there was from the surgery. I had 4 treatments of A/C followed by 12 treatments of Taxol and 6 weeks of radiation. I don't know how long ago your family members were treated, but I can tell you things have changed...for the better! Yes I lost my hair...but it is only hair! I didn't have to shave my legs or pits and now it is back! I was tired...but I got some great sleep! I had some skin irritations....but now they are gone! I lost some weight....but I needed to! It wasn't a picnic to go thru it...but I would do it again if it meant living. Life is good and I am sure you have many people who love you and will support you! Please think this thru carefully....and check things out. Talk to more people who have been thru this....it isn't so bad. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!!!! God be with you in whatever you decide. Pam

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

One year ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer,did some chemo and didn't experience any uncomfortable side effects. Also tried hormonal therapy, that was very unpleasant. I just want to feel normal and enjoy life and they want to try a Abraxane now but I'm not sure what to do. I wish I could just make that decision and say no more treatments like you did, but I'm not really sure what to do. It would be easier to make a decision like this if I had some idea how long I could last with or without it.

 

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derickson answered...

Thank You to Mary F for her wisdom and willingness to share. None of us know for sure how long we will "last", but having the courage to live and to die is a great legacy for all of those who know us. Believe. Like Mary, I chose not to have conventional treatments following surgery and a dx for a rare and fatal cancer, but, by grace, knew that no matter how it turned out (living or dying) it would be okay. I learned of a treatment for the Immune system from the Livingston Clinic in San Diego which included massive doses of intravenous Vitamin C. The year was 1991, and with lots of love and support from family and friends and grace of the Almighty, I am still here; unfortunately, the clinic has since been closed by the state of California. I am thankful it was there when I needed it. I strongly recommend reading Love, Medicine, and Miracles by Bernie Siegel. Blessings, Danielle E.

 

stitchymom answered...

I know that there are sometimes when we do not know what is going on with others in the forum. Recently, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. There is no life expectancy period. Attitude has a lot to do with it. If you wait for your life to end, it surely will. My first diagnosis was in May of 08. Now I am re-fighting. The point is that even in 3 years things have changed. There is a new drug that tricks cancer cells into thinking it is food and wham they eat and die. I am being given a fighting chance. Take all you can and run with it. I am living today to get better for tomorrow.

 

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Mrs. answered...

Bravo to you!!! Like you, I have made the same choice. It is not for anyone to decide but you. I do wish there were a group in which those of us who have decided to go untreated could belong. Glory days are around the corner...nothing here on earth could compare!!! Bless you through this walk!

 

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silent mama answered...

Dear companions who made the choice to not treat their breastcancer! I respect all choices, but mine was also to not treat it. I was diagnosed with a severe aggressive cancer in january 2007 and my doctor could tell me that probably it was there about 10-12 years...if I had been cautious I would have noticed, but at the time I had no time to be ill because of my partner and father of my son. My son had expressed the will to take care of his father after his coma (2004) no matter how demented he was and to be his companions till the very last end. His father needed permanent assistance and help, my son was a youngster of 20 and studying and no one could expect him to be there all the time, so I was the permanent help anyway. After years of separation, we became a true family again, for now was the time, with no delay, to love and care at the best for each other in whatever ways. Such things we can only do when they have to be done. It was now or never. When our beloved one died in sept.2006, after a very severe decline of all capacities,but also an immense experience of shared love and gratefulness, the mourning was heavy and my heath started to scream for attention. In january the diagnosis was severe, I would have maximum 1 year as the cancer was very aggressive. Everybody will understand that I was not planning to submit my son to another terrible decline! I had only 1 choice: to preparing my son to accept my "departure" as well, spending as much quality- time as possible lovefully, joyfully and meaningfully and in the meanwhile cleaning up all matters of life that would otherwise burden him after. 2 months later a check of the situation shortened my life expectations. I would not make it till the autumn! When even my funeral was arranged, my papers in order for my last will concerning healthcare...we decided for a trip of 10 days meant as a "last vacation" together before my departure. Because of a flebitis I could not fly back...and I stayed 3 months on a mountain in Crete. I came back in bad condition but looking like a flower! Painkillers of all kind started to make my consciousness more numb...and I didn't want that...but the pains and disorders of all kind where severe. But those disorders where partly due to the side-effects of the painkillers and other medicines. So I decided to cut down the medicines...till NONE! We are 2011 now, I adapted my lifestyle, when exhausted I take it calmly, when I have energy I enjoy it! I still return to Crete every once a while for several months (it is cheaper than all my medicines together and the results are amazing!I know I got a BONUS, my son and I are aware that it might not last...but so what! What we have we have...The quality of my life has always been more important to me than the duration... and look what happened! I have still my breasts, no metastasis, I am not taking medicines, and yes the cancer grows visibly and sometimes causes harsh time... disorders of all kind, but I accept, I comfort myself, adapt each time at the demands of my cancer and then "he" leaves me in peace again...and again.I might not have a physical active time, but a very very important healthy spiritual time and I still am able to support and inspire my beloved ones instead of burdening them with excessive care and sorrows. I am 58 and still have the looks of a youngster! Who doesn't know will not suspect anything. That is confusing of course, for my looks are not telling anything about my true condition. So The thing that scares me is that I would overlook the symptoms of the true end nearing, and missing to depart with a proper "goodbye, see you later!".

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

Dear Rosana,

I read Your story and like You I have deep trust in God alone.l also have breast cancer I have 00 inusurance. My age s 69, I live alone. I watched my mother go through all kinds of treatment,sickness, highs, lows emotionally, and much money, all the sickness and tiredness etc, she survived only to die in that same year due to a careless driver,my mother tried to miss his car and in doing so she hit a tree and died 2 days later of her injuries.....They say dying is relatively easy, it is how we live that is our real true challenge/test. My Mom was afraid to die, She was 68 yrs old. We think we have all the answers and cures for life's problems, however, God is the decider. We as humans still think we are in control of things.....

If I live or die this is not in my hands, just as having chemo, etc.,etc, could not save My Mother, for my Moms death was not to due to cancer, but was caused by another way.

Only God is knower of when we will be born, how our life will be, and the day/ hour of our death and where our soul will go.

 

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sarche answered...

Gerson therapy and Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski have had great success in curing cancers, including breast cancers. Google for information. Seek their treatment.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

to cure answer u need the gerson therapy cure cancer without drugs or surgery

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

Dear Rosana,
I admire you for doing what you feel is right for you in dealing with your disease. I have a friend who has chosen to forego treatment for her breast cancer. Her biggest complaint at the moment is a wandering pain, usually in her arms or legs, which is worse on some days more than others. Hospice provides her with pain medication (as well as lots of other support) to keep her fairly comfortable. I am not sure of her staging -- since she is not pursuing treatment, she is no longer told how far the disease has spread. My prayers are with you!

 

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passiondivastacie answered...

I admire your strength! I stopped listening to other people and started making decisions for myself. I am too vain and too independent to be bald and relying on other people. I'm 42 years old and its been approximately 18 years since the doctors first had concerns for me and wanted to do a biopsy. I even had a doctor tell me that he wouldn't give me birth control or diet pills until I started coming in for regular exams. F*ck cancer! I can get birth control from a clinic and diet pills from the street corner! I REFUSE to do chemotherpy. Call me crazy. I don't care!! I am NOT Jesus! I choose NOT to suffer!! When it's my time I will go. Until then, I am going to make the best of everything. Good Luck and God Bless and YOU GO GIRL!!!! :)

 

Minime answered...

40 year old furry mom, Stage II something a rather. Suggested treatment mastectomy in a week, followed by chemo. My thoughts, get a bus and tour the country with the fur balls. I should be right, right?

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

I am going through chemotherapy, sure it's no walk in the park but it is doable. Like my friend who had it years ago said, it is an 'inconvenience'. She was being stoic, but like I say it is doable. Fear should not be a primary reason for not seeking treatment.

 

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An anonymous caregiver answered...

Yes it is each individuals decision but each person should make that in full light of the facts for their own prognosis. My partners mother initially decided not to have chemo for fear of side effects. A year down the line the breast cancer started affecting her ability to talk and swallow food - both became very painful, I think due to pressure of the tumour on a nerve. So eventually she started chemo, but at a point when the cancer had caused fairly unpleasant impacts on the quality of her life. All I'm saying is make the decision armed with as much info about your own situation. I wish you well with your decisions.

 

Minime answered...

Thanks for your honest responses. I have seen a family member lose out to leukaemia after 5 years on and off chemo. The oncologist has said now the surgeons don't want to operate without chemo as the tumour is quite large. Apparently the chemo treatment for breast cancer is milder so I am trusting the oncologist with that. The oncologist has rather uncomfortably said that the prognosis is probably 2 years if I do nothing. I guess I have to give chemo a round for 5 months and see where it is at. Youngest fur baby is just coming up for 7 years so I guess a 7 year plan is the go hopefully.

 

 
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