CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - We hear of chemotherapy and radiation to cure cancer while it’s active. But what happens during remission?
“It’s such a life shock to be given this life-threatening diagnosis," Dr. Michael Naughton, an oncologist with Saint Francis Healthcare System, said. “And while you’re in remission that’s great, but they always know there’s that risk.”
Once in remission, Dr. Naughton said the medical team monitors and educates that person.
“Because unfortunately all of these women do have some risk of recurrence," he said.
“I tell my patients when they finish often they have surgery, they have chemotherapy or radiation, and I said, ‘well, I’m not going to be seeing you as often. But just because of that, that doesn’t meant that you will not call me if you have any question, any concern,’" said Dr. Carlos Robles, an oncologist with Saint Francis Healthcare System.
Naughton and Robles said those in remission check in at regular appointments, get blood work done and need to be alert to certain symptoms’ patterns. But of course, the specifics differ from person to person.
“A breast cancer recurring or coming back, that can happen to any of us," said Melanie Baxter, a cancer genetic counselor with Saint Francis. “Genetic testing can give us a better idea of if we need to be doing anything differently for women regarding surveillance moving forward for other types of cancer or maybe new breast cancers.”
But Baxter said it does not give us all the answers.
“Genetics or genetic testing doesn’t really tell us the likelihood of a breast cancer coming back. That all depends on what stage it is, when it’s diagnosed, how well it responds to treatment options that are used," she said.
But no matter the stage or response to treatment, they want positive results for patients.
“We want to offer a curative treatment, and the majority of the patients are going to be cured. And that’s our hope that everybody becomes cancer survivors," said Robles.