Re: 77 year old Breast Cancer Patient. I hope by now, there has been some investigation of her symptoms. I agree with Dr. Putnam that your mother should be seen by an oncologist immediately. I do not agree that breast cancer can not seem to reoccur so soon after treatment. It is my understanding that doctors usually treat much older women with a surgery and leave out the aggressive chemo efforts to avoid serious complications. It is my anecdotal experience that many surgeons and oncologists send most women, young and old, off for surgery without performing a complete staging workup (CAT scan of the chest, abdomen, pelvis and bone scan) beforehand. Thus, it is a shock to learn that the cancer has spread. For excuse's sake, it is labeled as a recurrence, when it really isn't, it was just there anyway, and health care as it is, and doctors, as stubborn as they are, just did not bother to evaluate.
I can't explain the itching, other than the prosthesis and the bra that she is wearing could also be playing a role, unless it is symptomatic of underlying disease that will be evaluated by the oncologist.
I do not know when the question was posted, but I thought it was important to clarify some information to pass along to others.
As for the role of tumor markers and tracking progress of the disease, I had been living since a young age with Stage 3B breast cancer. In the beginning, I had tumor markers. When I was experiencing weird symptoms, and a mistake was made on a radiology report saying everything was clear (later they found it wasn't), 3 oncologists failed to listen to what I was reporting because it contradicted the test results. They failed to double check the PET/CT with a bone scan (PET scans, by the way, are not accurately in diagnosing all types of bone tumors) and declared me cured. Oops....
They saw the stupid thing spreading, I knew it was the breast cancer, but I was not believed, because I DID NOT HAVE POSITIVE TUMOR MARKERS!!!!
I still don't, even though now diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Some women are lucky to have them. I later learned from a well-known oncologist, and I have to explain repeatedly to this day (like today, when another oncologist said I was doing so well, I had no positive tumor markers), why the test is not that accurate and 50% of the time, women do not come up with positive tumor markers. So, it must be understood, the tumor marker test is not a reliable indicator for some, and should a doctor rely solely on them and mislead a gal, grill the oncologist about the test, or do so, after googling. 1-800-4-Cancer is the number for the National Cancer Institute and is a good resource to go over the latest treatment options and symptoms.
As for the other gal who is suffering from the side-effects of treatment for the other cancer, I can tell you that doctors are getting nasty....even with cancer patients. I had one doctor make me wait 3 weeks for an appointment. The gal picking me up was late, and I called to give the office the courtesy of the head's up. They canceled, just as I was arriving at the cancer center. I don't know. Be on time, or else. I have the same issues. If you are chemo-brained, and not focused, they don't like it either. But, if you have to wait for 3 hours, even if you are on time, that's okay. I'm beginning to feel like going to the MD is not for the ill, or very ill, but offices expect patients to be as presentable as for a job interview. Makes no sense. Terrible.
Try contacting your local county social worker for support services in your area, and the American Cancer Society for other resources. There is an office on Civil Rights for doctors who discriminate. Good luck, and I need some too!!