Can I Be Cured of Breast Cancer?
It’s normal to worry about what breast cancer will mean for you and your family. You may have questions such as “What are my chances of being cured?” or “How long will I live?” The answers to these questions are what you may hear healthcare experts call your prognosis. Your prognosis is the likely outcome, or course, of your cancer. Your doctor considers how likely these outcomes are for you when making your prognosis:
Your chance of being cured of cancer, called recovery
Your chance of having the cancer come back, called recurrence
Your chance of dying of the cancer
To make your prognosis, your doctor will use these facts:
Your own case. Your doctor will look specifically at the type, stage, and traits of your cancer. Your general health is also considered, including whether you’ve had cancer before. Your age and whether you’ve reached menopause can also affect your prognosis.
Ask your doctor to help you understand what the statistics may mean for you. But keep in mind that even your doctor cannot tell you exactly what will happen to you.
Some people find that learning about their prognosis reduces their fears. Some use this information to help them make decisions about tests or treatments. For others, a prognosis is confusing, scary, and too impersonal to be of use. It is a personal decision--and your choice--about how much information to ask for and how to deal with it.
It makes some sense to plan for every eventuality when you’re facing a potentially deadly disease. Still, you should not allow statistics, or a bleak prediction by your doctor, to dictate your future. There are people who have survived every stage of breast cancer. There are also people who have outlived their doctor’s predictions. Your prognosis gives a perspective, but it is not etched in stone. Try to focus your thoughts on the tens of thousands of people who have survived breast cancer.