Cancer on TV: CBS-TV’s “As The World Turns”
Series Topic: Breast Cancer
Original Air Dates – June 20, 2005 – ongoing: "Lucinda’s Breast Cancer"
Lucinda discovers a lump in her breast and gets a
which can be the removal of tissue in and around the breast, to determine whether cancer cells are present.
The test confirms the presence of a malignant tumor, specifically
Stage III breast cancer,
which suggests that this is not an early cancer. Cancer is labeled in stages as a way to describe the extent
or severity of the original (primary) tumor and the extent of spread in the body. In Lucinda’s case,
this indicates that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and tissues around the chest wall including ribs
and muscles in the chest, and/or organs adjacent to the primary tumor.
Lucinda is introduced to various
treatment options for her breast
cancer, which vary from standard treatments to newer clinical trials (research studies in which doctors find ways to
prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer). NCI suggests that women consult with their doctor before designating a specific
treatment or investigating clinical trials. Information on clinical trials
is available from the NCI website.
The standard cancer removal options
include breast-conserving surgery, operations to abstract the cancer but not the breast itself, such as a lumpectomy or partial
mastectomy; or breast removal surgery, such as a mastectomy or a radical mastectomy. Lucinda determines that her ideal option
is to have a lumpectomy, which is a surgical procedure to remove a tumor (lump) and a localized amount of normal tissue.
After surgery, Lucinda chooses between more treatment options which help kill any final remaining cancer cells in the body.
Standard options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy. Lucinda chooses
chemotherapy, which destroys cancer cells by stopping
them from growing or multiplying. Chemotherapy sometimes harms healthy cells, which is what causes
side effects such as hair loss, but these cells usually
repair themselves after chemotherapy. Oftentimes, one therapy alone is not sufficient but can instead require that two or more types
of therapies, such as when chemotherapy and radiation are used in combination to treat the cancer.
Approximately 5 to 10 percent of women who have breast cancer have a hereditary form of the disease, according to the National
Cancer Institute. Families with cases of breast cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease, however,
not every woman with such family history is predetermined to develop the condition. Considering their
increased risk for breast cancer,
Lucinda’s daughters consider getting
Frustrated with the adverse effects of chemotherapy, Lucinda learns of an
alternative treatment option,
which she believes will allow her to stop chemotherapy. Lucinda collapses with a high fever when she experiences a bad reaction
to the alternative treatment. After speaking with her doctor, she decides to continue with the chemotherapy and have the
mastectomy to remove all the cancer in her breast. Lucinda undergoes a successful
surgery, and is discharged from
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