Friday, March 20, 2015

About the numbers

My statistics are from two sources: SEER ( and from the top cancer journal, CA


·         We are living longer with breast cancer.

I don’t see it. I see two things wrong with this statement.

1.       The median age at diagnosis is 61 and the median age at death is 68. Untreated breast cancer is estimated to take about three years from diagnosis to death. That is, all that surgery, chemo and radiation is adding four years from diagnosis to death to the median.

2.       Techniques for diagnosing breast cancer, especially advanced breast cancer, have improved. Women are diagnosed earlier but that does not mean that overall they are living longer. They are living longer KNOWING they have breast cancer and that is not the same thing. For example, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer almost two years ago because my tumor markers were rising. A scan confirmed the metastasis to the hip. I had no pain and no symptoms.

·         The number of women dying from breast cancer in the USA has not changed since 1970.

1.       The number of women dying from breast cancer in the USA has increased since 1970. In 1970 30,100 people died of breast cancer in the USA.

2.       The number of people dying kept increasing every year until it stabilized in 1992 at about 46,000. The number was approximately 40,000 for 2014 and is expected to be 40,730 for 2015. If this represents a rise in cases, please refer to the above about knowing about it for longer.

3.       The number of cases of breast cancer is over three times higher now than in 1970 (from 68,000 to an expected 234,190)

4.       The incidence of breast cancer and the death rate declined the most from 1995 to 1998. Then the incidence started to rise again with a modest decline in death rates from 1998 to 2011.

·         Breast cancer is rare in women under 50.

1.       The most common cancer in women under 50 is breast cancer and women under 50 have a 1:53 chance of getting breast cancer.

2.       The lifetime risk is 1:8.


Update on clinical trial: Vaccine For a Cure

I completed my loading dose of vaccines and antibody. I had four injections of the vaccine ONT-10 each week for eight weeks. In addition, I  had three infusions of the antibody, varlilumab, one every three weeks. Now I wait for my scans next month to see if it worked. If it does, I go on a maintenance dose every six weeks.

I feel great with no side effects. It is a wonderful break from AIs and all the problems those bring. You know what those are! I have managed to work and exercise normally and have a lot of energy. Sometimes I have so much energy that I can’t get to sleep and I get up to code. Then I have computer code chasing me all night.


How  does the early death of a mother from breast cancer affect a family.

Have you ever wondered what the long-term effects are when a young mother dies? This is the story of one family I know. The mother’s death was like taking a hammer to a mirror and then watching the splinters scatter and cut and scar. A husband and five children were left. The disease did not just take the mother. It took a family.

Six people were cast adrift. The anchor was gone.

·         6 people moved in different directions, lost

·         5 marriages, 2 divorces

·         2 very unhappy marriages not divorced

·         4 with drug and/or alcohol  problems

·         2 drank themselves to death

·         1 became a philanderer

·         1 turned to promiscuity then prostitution

·         Another went to prison for embezzlement

·         1 went to college

·         There was no proud mom at graduations

·         There was no mother-of-the bride

·         There was no grandma for the babies

·         There were no more family get-togethers

·         All struggled alone without a family safety net

·         The ones that are left have not interacted for decades

·         They were not nice to each other.


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