Argh- Another 5 years…

Since my breast cancer diagnosis and completion of chemotherapy treatment, there’s been some back and forth about the next step in endocrine therapy. Initially I was told 10 years on the aromatase inhibitor and then new research came out the following year indicating 5 years was sufficient and that the extra 5 years would not make me any more/less likely to have a recurrence of cancer. For those who don’t know about aromatose inhibitors; some people consider this additional cancer treatment/pill form of chemotherapy and some consider it endocrine therapy since it essentially is blocking all estrogen/progesterone in my body and forcing me into menopause…however intentionally so that those hormones do not recreate a cancer in my body since the initial one was hormone driven.

Well, I’m at just over 4 years into this medication and I have been anxiously awaiting next May 2022 when 5 years would be up on that medication. At my July appointment with my oncologist, I brought this up and was hoping that the rules had not changed. However she was hesitant and nervous to agree to just stopping at 5 years.

Together we looked back up the research and she then brought up this new test that had recently been approved for my type of cancer to assess whether the additional 5 years would be indicated. It was the breast Cancer Index. No new poking or prodding, just taking old tissue that had been stored/frozen from my 2017 biopsy and running new tests on it to provide a percent of how likely I am to have another recurrence if not on the medication over the 10 year period.

The details of how it works … ie page 2 of the report

Well, 3 weeks later I got the call yesterday with my results. Yes- on to 5 more years of this medication :(.
Truthfully, I’d rather know I was not risking another bout of this because the next trip around that problem may be worse…
The side effects from the Arimidex (my aromatose inhibitor) are much more tolerable and at this point I’m just accustomed to what to expect and that it is the weight I carry. In the grand scheme of things, it could be way worse! And while I was looking forward to seeing if some of the side effects I didn’t appreciate the most would go away, others have said that it may never go back to normal. So… maybe in the end its not that big of a deal.

Nonetheless, I wanted my blog followers to know where things were in the process. No changes to the current me, so I’ll just keep on trucking.

And here below are my results. I’m still trying to figure out how to read the results fully. They (the Breast Cancer Index) still promotes that 95% of breast cancer patients in remission are safe to discontinue the meds after 5 years, but that this test will give you confidence in stopping at 5 years or push to stick out another 5.

I’m struggling to find detailed information on how to read these reports fully… I feel like I just need one more push of understanding; however it appears my results show I have a 6.7% chance of recurrence if I don’t continue my medication… indicating I am in that 5% that need 10 years. I am curious as more women get tested if those numbers will change and they find more women than 5% are warranted to need the additional 5 years..

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