Risk of third recurrence?

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Question from SaraL: After undergoing cancer recurrence to the same right breast within a two-year time span, I would like to know what the chances are of the cancer recurring for a third time? Initial diagnosis was at the age of 37, and the second diagnosis was at the age of 39.
Answers - Marisa Weiss, M.D. If you experience a breast cancer recurrence that is limited to the same breast where it started, this may be very effectively treated by mastectomy. After mastectomy, before recurrence, the risk of a second recurrence can be relatively low, depending on the nature of the recurrence. The risk of a second recurrence depends on tumor size, tumor grade, lymphatic/vascular invasion, the status of the margins, hormone receptors, whether the skin is involved or not, and if there is lymph node involvement.

If you are a young woman and you've had breast cancer twice, you may have inherited a genetic abnormality that could have contributed to each of these cancers. If a woman does have an inherited genetic abnormality, she is at increased risk for developing new breast cancers—on either side—over the course of her lifetime. It may be very helpful for you to seek further information from a skilled genetic counselor working together with your doctor to see if this is an issue for you or not.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Metastatic Breast Cancer featured Musa Mayer, Eric P. Winer, M.D., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about treatment and quality of life issues related to advanced (metastatic) breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2003.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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