We had a long, informative consultation with the oncologist who is unquestionably recommending 4 sessions of chemotherapy for my aggressive Grade 3 tumor. We still don't know the HER2 status or anything else, really, as the Pathology Report remains incomplete. More waiting sucks...
He put the facts we have available at the moment into a computer model (Adjuvent! Online) and came back with the answer to the math question using currently available information, in graph form.
Assuming surgery, radiation and clear nodes, ten year survivals look like the following for a 60 year old, average-health person (damn that diabetes, guess that I don't qualify for really healthy person status...lol):
For every 100 women with breast cancer:
With no additional treatment:
62 will be alive
7 will die of other causes
31 will die of cancer
If you add just hormone therapy:
an additional 8 will be alive (that makes 70 alive)
If you add just chemotherapy:
an additional 7 will be alive (that makes 69 alive)
If you add both chemotherapy and hormone therapy
an additional 13 are alive (that makes 75)
Bottom line...adding chemotherapy adds 5%
Chemo seems a lot to endure for only a 5% statistical edge. Hormone therapy is not in question. I will absolutely do that.
The Oncotype DX is still in the works and I told him I had to see that report to make a final decision on chemo. A low score (which he feels is unlikely) would make him feel more comfortable with a "no chemo" decision. A score above 20 makes me feel more comfortable with a "suck it up and do chemo" decision.
He answered my 20 questions and more. One of my biggest concerns with chemo is the steroids that are administered. He said he typically reduces them by about 2/3 for diabetics.
He gave me his card, including his cell phone number. Relationship-wise, I think he's OK. I haven't talked to anyone who has been his patient, so I don't know how he ranks around the area. I am having to trust the breast surgeon on this referral, at least for now. He certainly got the picture of just how damn scared I am, and how much I don't want to do chemo if there is just a tiny benefit.
So that's today's medical adventures...I'll be seeing the radiologist tomorrow. I think that will be a tad easier...there is no decision here, it's a forgone conclusion.