One of the most frustratingly mind-boggling things about being a breast cancer survivor (and probably other cancers too) is that after the intense attention from multiple medical personnel you receive for chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery: after all that you’re alone. Thrown to the wolves, so to speak, where in wolves=no way to tell whether the cancer has come back unless that cancer becomes big enough to be detected on a mammogram.
And mammograms are not entirely reliable. And they don’t catch metastasized breast cancer that shows up, say, in your liver or kidney or bladder.
So here you are, living your life, entirely unsure if cancer is growing in your body or not and the medical profession just says “its okay, we’ll catch it when it shows up in an advanced enough stage…maybe.” (face palm, am I right?)
So I feel like the biggest research priorities should switch from testing chemotherapy drugs that most likely will only add on months of disease-free existence or progression-free existence (not sure about Immunotherapy yet) to these two areas: prevention and screening.
And by screening I mean a bloodtest because at least in the United States, mammograms are not consistently used across all populations (and they are expensive and they are uncomfortable and embarrassing and as I said before, they don’t catch metastasized cancer in other parts of the body). Current screening protocols are insufficient.
“Breastcancer.org estimates that about 40,610 women in the United States died from breast cancer in 2017. While the mortality rate has declined since 1989, significantly for those under 50, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, aside from lung cancer.”
So the good news: there seems to finally be a progress on that front. (https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/science/new-blood-test-can-detect-early-signs-of-8-hidden-cancers/) It doesn’t look like it will be ready when I go to my 5 year oncology appointment next March, but I”m hopeful it will be available in the next year or so.
And that’s good news. Because I have daughters.