Worried about getting cancer in other breast?

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Question from skipper: I have feelings like I should have my other breast removed as a precaution. Having ILC in the one has me feeling scared of getting it again. How do I gain confidence in my body not rebelling against me again?
Answers - Lidia Schapira You bring up a very interesting point, and one that I hear frequently from my patients. And that is, how can I trust my body after it betrayed me once? The answer is a very personal one. In some cases the anxiety and the worry over having a second breast cancer leads some women to choose prophylactic surgery; having the normal breast removed so you can stop worrying about having a cancer in that breast.

But that fear may be excessive. I would suggest that you talk about your fears and anxiety with your oncologist, and talk about what the chances are of getting a cancer on the other side. After that you may have to talk about your fears with a mental health worker, and finally come to a decision that will help you make peace with your body, so that you can move on with your life. There is no one answer that fits all worries. You have to find one you are comfortable with, and move on with no regrets.
Jennifer Armstrong, M.D.  I think it is worth mentioning that it is often during the time following treatment that anxiety levels can rise and many different fears may come to the surface. That is, while patients are undergoing treatment they feel that they are doing everything they can be doing to fight cancer. Once they complete therapy, patients often feel vulnerable, and this transition from treatment to surveillance can be difficult. I echo Dr. Schapira's advice to discuss these feelings, and to gather more facts that pertain to your particular case with your health care providers.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Coping With Your Changing Feelings and Relationships featured Lidia Schapira, M.D. and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answering your questions about facing your fears head-on, handling moodiness and depression, diffusing tension with your partner and feeling close without sexual activity, as well as issues of self-image and femininity.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2006.

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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