Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mayo Clinic Cancer Symposium

2nd annual Mayo Clinic Symposium was held at the Marriott just a mile or so away from the Phoenix Campus of Mayo Clinic.  I attended again this year, it was good to see my team of doctors there and ready to present information.

Dr. Northfelt, my med/oncologist and myself
Some of the information I learned from the meetings were new to me, some I already knew but this is the reason I like to attend these symposiums so that I can learn all I can about my disease and what the new techniques or statistics are.

I learned that 200,000 new cases per year are reported of breast cancer, the side effects of radiation are some that I am dealing with still. 

Lymphedema ✓
Lung inflammation
Fatigue ✓
Depression and anxiety ✓
Chest wall and or breast tenderness ✓
Breast swelling ✓
Skin burning

I only have 5 out of those 7 side effects, so feel blessed to not have to deal with lung inflammation or burning skin anymore.

I learned that Radical Mastectomy's no longer are performed and have not been performed on breast cancer patients since the 1970's.  They no longer perform these because the surgical procedures have been incredibly advanced since then.  In a radical mastectomy they used to have to take everything including the bone surrounding the area, this left women with horrible battle scars.  I had a bi-lateral mastectomy, both breasts were taken with all surrounding tissue but not bone, leaving surgeons the ability to reconstruct in an easier way, with much better results.

When someone has a lumpectomy they only have a 1.9% of recurrence
single mastectomy 1.1% recurrence and only 0/3% of cancer patients who have a lump in one breast will get another one in the other breast--in the words of Dr. Kreymerman "they are sisters, not twins"
BRCA 1 or 2 mutation only has 30% 10 year recurrence in the other breast.
Only 25% of breast cancer diagnosis are women under the age of 80.

Some great things to come are:
Cancer Vaccines
the studying of tumor clones
DCIS vaccines
Her2 antibodies

One bit of information I thought was interesting, 15% of patients who go through the cancer process will get Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  It's as if you have been through a war, the fear and anxiety of the return of the cancer or having to continue to deal with the side effects of cancer treatments can literally put ones body into traumatic stress.

With recurrent patients, 45% of women have treatable anxiety and depression within the 1st 3 months of 2nd diagnosis.  This is not a mountain to climb over,  but more of a terrain to walk through.

Did you know

55% stress over financial problems during treatment
46% cut back on food to able to pay their bills
6% lose their homes and have to relocate
50% are not comfortable talking about any of these symptoms, even to their doctors
50% of patients do not share all of what they are feeling or their fears with caregivers or family
history of abuse, physical, mental or sexual will increase the levels of anxiety and will not be
shared with doctors
most women post treatment will have low sex desire, vaginal dryness and feel embarrassed about asking or talking about it with their doctor.

I was not surprised by the fact that most women do not want to share a lot of intimate details with their doctors, but was reassured knowing I am one of them and it is normal.

I am still waiting to here back from Mayo about my ultra sound, and low white cell count--no news to report.


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