People have asked, why, if I'm node-negative, I need chemo. The answer lies in the size of my tumor along with my HER2+ status.
According to various studies done, the risk of recurrence is quite high for HER2+, even when node negative and even with tumors smaller than 1 cm. (My largest invasive one was 3.4 cm and I also had other smaller invasive tumors).
One looked at 5-year recurrence for women diagnosed between 1990 and 2002 with HER2+ tumors. They found that 30% had recurrences, and this was for tumors between 0.5 and 1 cm. It is commonly thought that the larger the tumor, the more likely the recurrence - estimates for me range from 40 to 50% chance of it coming back with no further treatment.
Plus, 15% of the women studied had recurrences with metastatic disease - meaning stage IV. Frightening stuff
After chemo and herceptin, only 7% had recurrences. Most of the recurrences happened between 1 year and 3 years after treatment.
So, you can see, that as much as I don't want to do this chemotherapy thing, I really have to if I believe in science and statistics, which I do
Herceptin is very new. There is conflicting information regarding whether dropping off herceptin after your year is up means it will eventually lose its efficacy. Recommendations are one year - there are people doing it for two now. Stage IV gals get it weekly forever and it seems to be prolonging their survival.
Time will tell but I'll be paying attention.
Anyway, that is why I have to do chemo.
Off I go.