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Friday, October 08, 2010 McSushi, Community Member, asks

Q: 88 year old woman. To chemo or not to chemo...

Hi! This is my first time posting to this website. I am a breast cancer survivor currently in treatment, but my question is regarding my grandmother who was just diagnosed. She is 88, in good health for her age, and has papillary carcinoma. The tumor is about 3cm, ER, PR Her 2 status still pending as is lymph node involvement. She consulted with an oncologist today who recommended neo-adjuvant chemo to reduce tumor size, then surgery, then more chemo. I know a fair bit about this process as I have been/am currently going through treatment and I feel this is a little aggressive considering her age. Am I wrong? When I mentioned her diagnosis to my onco and rad onco, both of them mentioned surgery and hormonal therapy if she is ER+. Came as quite a shock to hear her onco make such an aggressive suggestion. Just curious what others think... Thank you in advance!!!

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
10/ 8/10 7:03pm

If the women in your grandmother's family often live well into their 90's and if your grandmother is a vigorous 88, then she might want to go for the chemo.  However, "good health for her age" suggests to me that the surgery plus possible hormonal treatments makes more sense.  Ultimately this decision needs to be your grandmother's.  If she still has life goals that she wants to achieve and if she is willing to go through the rigors of chemo for the possibility of a longer life, then she should have the right to give it a try.  As you and I know from going through chemo, there will be a decline in energy that may be hard to spring back from.  I can't imagine choosing chemo at age 88, and I'm quite sure that my mother who is 89 would not do it.  

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By McSushi, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/25/10, First Published: 10/08/10