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As a cancer survivor, you may be at risk for the occurrence of a second cancer. After treatment is completed it's great to have a break from all of the medical appointments. However, it's important to keep in mind prevention strategies and screening practices for the future.
As a cancer survivor, your risk for developing another cancer may be higher than the average person. This risk may be due to:
What's important to keep in mind?
Celebrate your life by remembering your risk and understanding what's best for your future. If you're not sure what you need, ask your cancer treatment team or primary care provider to help you plan for your future screening. Many of you have mentioned that you're dealing with a second cancer. Use this blog to share your experiences with each other.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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I had ovarian cancer 11 months ago, now they think I may have lung cancer, a pet scan lit-up arround my chest, they say it could also be an infection, I AM WAITING FROM A BLOOD TEST from Mayo clinic.:((
Peggy, I don't know if you'll get this, but I have survived endometrial cancer -stage 4. Chemo every 3 weeks for 7 treatments. It was brutal and recovery took a long time. But I am still here, still cancer free. It will be 3 years in August. I also had radiation. Be strong - you can do it.
Yikes, how about enough of the death/tragic stories of cancer as that is all I seem to hear since I began chemo last week at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. Is there anybody out there that has survived endometerial IVB cancer with chemo treatments? I could use some encouragement.
I will be having chemo every three weeks for 6 times and I began my first treatment last Friday.
Does anyone know why the mammary lymph nodes
are not checked? A friend with BC that has now spread..Dr. says was probably in those glands?
Cindi.. sounds like you are in good hands just wish more to do now to stop it from coming back.
Hi, Kathy...I am going to a cancer center. And, my breast surgeon came here from md anderson! We had considered Cleveland Clinic but I was in a clinical trial here & very fortunate to get into it. Now that my radiation is over, I have to see my oncologist every 3 months. My cancer was so aggressive that I think he just wants to prepare me. I so appreciate your comments & concern. Will keep you posted. Have a blessed day.
I don't know where you are going but think I would try a cancer center.I have already done research on them.Your dr should be able to refer you and than your insurance should help you.Just call one of the cancer centers and ask questions.Cleveland Clinic was wonderful with my questions and also md Anserson in Texas is # 1 in breast cancer.
You need to look out for you, your dr does not seem to be.If he thinks it will return than he should be able to get any test covered .
I feel for Elise and Cindi as I read your comments I want to cry, scream, yell shake the whole world. There has to be a way for extremely earlier detection at a much younger age than 40. 37 % of breast tumors are felt and discovered by the woman or man themselves, it makes me angry that the mammorgrams and sonograms do not always work but they are supposed to be the best tools for finding breast cancer give me a break, and the medical community doesn't convey to women that these devices are often not reliable. There has to be something new and better for women's breast screening. The BRACA screening is good but there are other hereditary factors; a man in the family with breast cancer and a first degree relative--means genetic mutation. Families also need to communicate how and what extended family members died of to help make pre-survivor decisions before cancer happens in the body. Sadly in my case it too k the life of my dearest friend and sister to educate me. The pink group makes breast cancer appear to be so curable and it is not always true. They need to change the cute pink ribbon to a skull and bones to shock women into aggresive screening at a younger age. If they can make Viagra they can find a screening tool for women! Lord help us!
Diane - Getting a second opinion is always a good option. Especially when you have questions that are unanswered. For a second opinion at Mayo, either go online or call for an appointment with Hematology. Here is a link to the online web form - http://www.mayoclinic.org/patientinfo/appointments.html
Otherwise, you can also call one of the appointment offices -
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain time, Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time, Monday through Thursday
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday
Be ready to give her history and previous treatment as well as current status. Specifically ask for an appointment for a second opinion. I hope that all goes well for you and your daughter. You should have your questions answered and hopefully some of the fears will ease with additional information about her current situation.
Sheryl, how can my daughter (22) go about getting a second opinion? She is two years off chemo for Hodgkins but the PET scan shows "something" and the Dr. feels it as well but wants to wait and see. My daughter is always coughing (but has mild asthma)and has a constant cold. We can get copies of her blood tests and CD's of her scans but not dr notes. I just want to read it, I just can't rely on my hearing/understanding. I know the doctor is smart and is dumbing it down for us but that makes her repeat herself and I didn't understand it the first time. I just want to know if her childhood weird medical stuff was connected and why does she have colonic diverticulitus and why won't the weight gain go away? Those are the things I wonder about and I don't dare talk to my daughter about because I don't want her to be more afraid than she must be. She was never a talker and now really doesn't. Our neighbor girl who lives two houses away, same age, same school, was just diagnosed with Hodgkins a few weeks ago. It is stuff like that that I think about.
My lymph nodes were negative. No follow up tests are being done other that a mammogram on the right breast & a cat scan. I see my oncologist every 3 months, but, my insurance co won't pay for a pet scan. Stress is my middle name as every little bump or sensation I feel, I think is cancer. What else can I do? My oncologist thinks is will resurface in the bloodstream. What about you?
Cindi.. what kind of follow up test are you having to catch this fast if it were to reoccure? Also does any know.. I do of BC but a friend had a double masectomy and negative lymph nodes but less than a year it is in her lung and liver! I did test before surgey not show the spread that was already there somehow?
Elise, I had stage 4 triple negative breast cancer. I, too, found it myself 3 months after a normal mammogram. I went through chemo, mastectomy & radiation. I finished radiation in November and now I sit, wait & worry everyday. It is a very aggressive form of cancer & my oncologist feels it will return within a 3 yr period. I have a 21 yr old son who has had a very hard time dealing with this. He even left college because he felt he had to be here with us. I pray you have a good outcome with your cancer. Let's keep each other informed. You can do this, Elise.
Amy, i understand how you feel....i lost my sister-in-law to cancer that was found throughout her abdomen, never could find out what type of cancer it was. It was a devastating loss to the family. She left behind 3 children ages, 2,4 and 6. We also watched her waste away and die from cancer. She was a very fit woman. Now I have been diagnosed with stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer and I am scared. I have 2 children ages 12 and 13. I too am very discouraged by the ability of mammograms to detect cancer. i had regular mammograms and ultrasounds and the radiologists never saw anything. It wasn't until i found a lump under my arm and made my own ultrasound appt that the cancer was found by the breast specialist. No one told me that when you have dense breasts it is difficult to see cancer on the mammograms. I would have been for assertive for an MRI and going to the breast specialist. Anyway, i have had chemo and am now going thru radiation. I am very concerned about the damage from radiation to my lymphatic systmem and worried about how aggressive the cancer will be if they find that it has survived the chemo as i heard it comes back with a vengeance. With all the money they have for research you would think they would have more reliable tests. I have also started to see a natureopath doctor who has an M.D. degree as well. Have you read Susanne Somers book "Knock Out"? If nothing else it gives us hope, the medical doctors don't have all the answers.
I am so sorry, Amy, for the loss of your sister and for all of the feelings that you are going through. Cancer is very cruel and unfair. I will keep you and your sister in my thoughts and prayers..
Why do they want to find a cure for breast and ovarian cancer when there isn't effective screening devices for young women with a family history of breast cancer, and the CA 125 test for ovarian cancer isn't reliable.
My sister died 2/14/2011 of breast cancer. She was diagnosed at age 40 and died at age 41.4 months. She was diagnosed on her first mammogram. She was my best friend, my grief is crippling, but now I'm pissed off because of the pink ribbon crap makes BC seem like a fun day of wearing pink, help find an affordable screening device for young dense breasts! In younger women the cancer differs biologically and it is aggressive and deadly. The cancer ate through her bones and liver like a drill constantly pounding on hard rock, weakening her so much she could no longer walk, brush her teeth, go to school or go shopping. I love her so much I miss her terribly, women should not be ripped off in early detection, because state of the art equipment is only in a select few hospitals-------why? Now I will have an elective mastectomy and my ovaries removed, my sister's life to help save my life, it shouldn't take a life to save a life, damn it!
Cancer is so limited...
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.
For Jim, you are no way alone, not one bit. Cancer is fearful but it also strengthens love, you are never alone and even if you died next week you wouldn't be alone, you have energy around you all the time try to listen or feel it.
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I appreciate you all. My daughter just had her 2 yr after chemo checkup yesterday (for Hodgkins). PET shows something but she also has her ever present "cold". Dr. says "see you in four months" and something about a sed rate. Thanks to the new healthcare policies, no CT scan but don't know why I can't pay for it myself. I have a little savings. I am really grateful for insurance since we've paid in for it some 30 years but I don't understand why the two tests aren't used during this 5 year wait and see period. Thanks for letting me whine.
I had surgery for breast cancer in 2009 followed by chemo then 36 days of radiation. Since March of 2010 my CEA for tumor markers has been elevated. Have had a colonoscopy, Petscan, Catscan, Mammogram and nothing points to why my CEA has more than doubled (should read between 0 - 4.7 and mine is now up to 10.6). Help.
I use an oinctment made of arnica- a plant. You can find it at pharmacies and health food stores.
Would anyone have ideas on how to get rid of eczema arising from the cocktail of drugs given during chemotherapy and subsequent radiotherapy and brachytherapy? I've been told to abstain from pasta, noodles, bread. Someone told me to try apple cider vinegar but another person said vinegar causes cancer. It's all so confusing
I just appreciate that all who blog here talk honestly about the worries of recurrence. It has been 2.5 years and it is just hard. I had colon but it is genetic type with higher risk of return.
I find that other non-cancer folks struggle to understand the fear. I do everything I can to help myself, mindfulness, yoga, exercise, healthy foods, friends, etc but it is just hard. Thanks for the honesty and sharing.
I had stage three cancer in my neck, not throat. It was Occult squamous cell. They removed the tumor, and gave me heavy does of radiation and chemo, so lost 70 pounds (great diet aid the feeding tube was) and spent close to 5 months in bed except when I had to drive myself to treatment. So far there have been nosigns of it coming back, but I was told I had a 60% chance of it doing so. "Things" in life are just not that important any more to me, enjoying each day is a gift and I am by no means ready to pass on. When my time comes, I will be saying, wait, I have one more thing I need to do.
I went partners on a sailboat in Santa Cruz harbor, learning sailing navigation in night classes, and trying to be careful about what i do in terms of adding risk.
I lost my tase buds, (coming back slowly) have ringing in my ears, and the soles of my feet are numb due to chemo. But i am happy, happy i can have those things cause I am still here.
The whole thing is scary, because i have little control over what it does to me while active. But I am here, it is an "E-ticket" ride and it is by myself that I have to face it.
It seems as soon as I start to feel comfortable that the cancer is backing off, here it comes again! This time in the form of a tumor in my lymph nodes in my neck that just won't go away. Radiation every day. We'll see what happens. Try to stay positive, but I'll NEVER feel cancer-free. It's alway lurking around the corner for me, and diligence is key. Good luck to all, in every stage of treatment.
Some of the comments seemed to want more "surveillance" such as pet and cat scans - I think we have to be aware of too much exposure to radiation that these scans use. I have stage 3 ovarian and initially I wanted a ct scan a month I was so scared of recurrence - I kind of got hooked on the good feeling of relief I got from getting the all clear message from the doctors. My scans are now every 6 mons and I'm learning to live with that - its HARD! just like every other thing connected w/this disease. But I have to balance having a life between scans and having all the other surveillance - colonoscopy, mamogram, dentist, eyes etc. I wish all of us well.
I noticed that many of you are also asking about tumor markers such as PSA for prostate cancer and CA 125 for cervical cancer. See these links from Mayo Clinic at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-diagnosis/CA00028 and the National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/tumor-markers for a more comprehensive discussion on tumor markers and how they work for cancer detection.
Great discussion on PET scans and screening for cancer. It is true that a PET scan can be used to detect cancer and recurrence. This type of scan is not used to detect all cancers, but can be helpful in detecting brain, breast, cervical, colon, esophageal, lung, lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic and thyroid cancers. If you are wondering if a PET scan is a good option for you, ask your cancer team. For insurance coverage, a letter of medical necessity may be needed because of your increased risk for cancer recurrence. For more information on PET scanning, see also this link from Mayo Clinic
Amy... there is a blood test for ovarian cancer..CA125
I was even told my Cleveland Clinic( I just called and asked some ?) To ask dr for pet scan or ct scan for since i was worried about reoccurance and family history. If he refuses ask else where.insurance co. do refuse sometimes but it all depends on your Dr
to all with cancer or cancer suvivors,the more knowledge about this disease that you can arm yourself with puts you in control of your own situation.I,too,am a cancer victim of breast cancer,tried the chemo pills for 2yrs.9 mons.my body would not tolerate the meds.,so I was left to find an alternative.For my liver function,I now take milk thistle,which is an herb.My lft test are now normal.There is a blood test called a ca27/29 that measures cancer-antigens in the blood that is very helpful.38 is the number that is normal.anything above this that is excesscively high indicates something needs checking out. this has been my method of keeping a check,but I know that at some point,the cancer will return. Apositive attitude has helped me,along with prayer from my church family. Thanks
I, too, would like a PET scan to screen for other cancers, but, my insurance refuses to cover it. They say it isn't "medically necessary." Having dealt w/ TN breast cancer, chemo, surgery & radiation, I fear every twinge that I feel. I don't want to stress about it,but I do..don't want to be a hypocondriac either.
I think chemotherapy brain may be signs of the pre-active phase of dying, cancer has taught me to accept death as a journey that can be amazing, wondrous, and happy if you tune into your body, mind, spirit and those you love in your closest inner circle. "Final Journies" and "Final Gifts" by Maggie Callanan, a hospice nurse, are more useful in stage IV cancer than the best oncologist at the best hospital. Hospice in the Temecula Valley are a group of angels on Earth.
I agree with Kathy why can't they give a PET scan as a screening tool for women's breast cancer, I had a lump removed atypical lobular hyperplasia that did not appear on a mammogram or a sonogram.
I was diagnosed 5 months ago with a form of leukemia called MDS. I am very tired and have swollen lymph nodes and one different infection after another but no treatments. I would like a PET scan but scared of the results.
Why isn't there screening for ovarian cancer, and effective screening for breast cancer under age 45?
I had 8 rounds of chemo at 3-week intervals, bilateral mastectomies (with multiple lymph node removed), and then 38 radiation treatments (including the boost), ending in November 2010. Some sensation is now returning to the chest and underarm area, and I'm having trouble not characterizing those intermittent twinges and pangs as pain. (They are very brief.) Fatigue has continued, and at my last visit my oncologist suggested that I increase fluids, stating that some of the fatigue may be a result of dehydration. (It had worsened with the onset of warmer weather and attempts to increase activities such as walks.) I know I need to be alert for signs of a recurrence, but I really don't want to become a hypochondriac about this.
I completed a 6 month course of chemo which finished in October. Since then, I have had a PET & CT and as a preventative, my physician has scheduled for another PET & CT in 2 weeks. He has told me that he will continue to use both for the time being. You may want to talk to your cancer care team about it.
I am wondering why pet scans are not used as preventive,they can see cancer.I have 3 people within a year of BC has returned to liver and lungs.I just finished rad and I am scared.. What kinds of test do they do in follow up?I hope more then a mamo cause I wasnt to check my liver and lungs before it is to late.
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