Has Anyone out there got 2 unrelated cancers at the same time, or heard of anyone else having this problem

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 12th January, stage 2, got a 7 cm x 4 cm lump in my right breast, and was going to have chemo first to hopefully reduce the size of the lump, then a masectomy or breast reductive surgery.

I have had problems with my stomach for a few months now, always bloated, couldn't eat much without being so full up that it caused pain at times, then my periods started coming every 2 weeks. I went to doctors, after breast diagnosis, and they got me in for ultra sound scan within 5 days, and radiologist said she could see a cyst, that looked suspicious. Was told 2 days later I had a 20cm ovarian mass, that had to be removed straight away, couldn't tell if it was cancer or not at that time though. This meant that my chemo was going to be delayed by up to 6 weeks. They then had me admitted within 2 days, and had both ovaries out, and womb, cervix, etc, full hysterectomy, because the mass had covered both ovaries and had spread to my womb.

That was 3 weeks ago today that I had that surgery. I found out last week that it was definately ovarian cancer, but the mad, and good thing is that my breast cancer and ovarian cancer are totally unrelated, so it wasn't secondary cancer, so I madly managed to get both cancers at the same time. There is no history in my family of ovarian or breast cancer, apart from my Gran who had breast cancer in her late 70's. They have said it is very uncommon to have 2 unrelated cancers at the same time, and I am 40 years old, so I am youngish to get both these too.

I start my chemo on Monday, which is the TAC chemo, so it will treat both areas, as far as they can see they have totally removed the cancer from the ovaries etc.

I am obviously aware after reading as much as I can, about how ovarian cancer can come back again and again, so I really don't know how to feel or what to think. I have been really positive, staying strong for my husband and my 19 year old son, and the rest of my family. I have got so much support it is unreal. I've just realised this question has turned into an essay lol. So my question is, how many people out there have unrelated cancers at the same time, or is it really that unusual. Thanks for reading, love Sarah xxx

25 Replies

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  • Hi Sarah,

    What bad luck to get two coincidental cancers. However; as I understand it, the picture is rather better for two seperate, treatable cancers, than for a spread of one cancer.

    If I were you, I would be takig stock of everything that might have triggered these things - one obvious one being peri-menopause. Take an invertory of the stress in your life, your diet and exercise regimes and how good your immune system is normally. Read around the subject ('Anticancer, a new way of life' especially) and make sure you are doing everything to give yourself the best possible chance of cure. Yes, ov. ca. has a high rate of recurrence; but you are unique, and this is very unsusual, remember. They seem confident that all the ov ca was removed at surgery, and chemo will 'mop up' and stray microscopic cancer. Concentrate on immune system support throughout the chemo and treatment ahead, and get lots of rest and relaxation and healthy input. You are young; there are lots of positives!

    Very best wishes,

    Isadsora

  • Hi Isadora

    Thanks for your reply. I do feel very lucky that they are seperate cancers, and thank god that they have removed the lump so quickly, my surgeon said it was the size of a honey dew melon, so I dread to think what might have happened if I had left it any longer. I have picked up quite a lot of booklets from the oncology department regarding diet, so I am looking at this as a chance to get proper healthy, so that I am as strong as I can be to fight this. I am not the healthiest of people, and I really do think I will hopefully come out of this the other end healthier than I was at the beginning of this journey. My immune system is normally pretty good I think, I have never had any major illnesses, but am very aware that once chemo starts I need to be careful of catching the slightest bug.

    Hope to speak again, thanks again for chatting back to me, best wishes to you too, Sarah xxxxx

  • Sorry about the errors in my message - I must wear my glasses!

    Transfer factor is the most powerful immune system support I can find - and I didn't get as much as a sniffle through 6 months of chemo on it, when all around me were going down with 'flu and colds. It's not cheap, but worth it, I think.

    I.

  • Is that some type of tablets that you can get from your pharmacy?? and don't worry about errors in the message, I totally understood it all xxx

  • No, they are from:

    globalfirst.co.uk/

    I. xx

  • Hi Sarah,

    I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage 3c back in May 2011. I had an operation to debaulk in June 2011, but the chemo I have had so far has not been successful and my disease has been progressing since September 2011 despite different chemos. In December 2011 I had a PET scan and it showed something in my left breast. A biopsy has confirmed it is cancer. They are not sure if it is a new primary or metastatic from the ovarian. Either way, they have offered me surgery IF we can get the ovarian cancer under control, otherwise they feel it is not worth the trauma as the oc will get me first anyway. Breast and ovarian cancers are known to be linked by the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. I have been tested and show no alteration in these, but there are still a lot more genes we do not know about yet as they have not been mapped. If we find the right chemo it should attack both cancers. Unfortunately my oc is high grade and is refractory (resistant to normal treatment).

    Love Lizzie

    X

  • Hi Lizzie

    So sorry that your oc has been progressing. I am assuming that stage 3c means it had spread beyond the ovaries,or pelvic area, so were they not able to remove it all?? They say they have removed mine, and they are as sure as they can be that they have got it all, although I am fully aware the chances of it coming back at some point are quite likely.

    How many types of chemo have you had for the oc. Luckily my oncologist is specialist in oc and bc, and she is going to give me optimum TAC chemo to attack the breast cancer, but the AC part of the TAC will also tackle the oc, so I really pray that you can get something like that, which will hopefully work for you.

    Are you still undergoing chemo for oc at the moment, or have you just finished your 1st course, I don't know enough about it all yet to know how long they leave before giving you more chemo.

    I'll be thinking of you, and hope to hear from you again. Thanks for taking the time to tell me about yourself. Best of luck, Lots of love, Sarah xxxx

  • Hi Sarah,

    About 0.5cm was left under my diaphragm which they could not remove, but the chemo was meant to clean up. So far I have had 2 types of chemo:-

    1) 6 carboplatin/taxol

    2) Dose #2 of caeylx. Now at a crossroads whether we change tack or carry on, I suspect based on my CA125 it will be changing tack.

    I had 2 months in between 1) and 2) whilst we confirmed the increasing CA125 was disease progression. This time I think we will go straight into plan C.

    I wish you all the luck in the world. Most people have a good response to chemo, I am just the exception to prove the rule!

    Love Lizzie

    X

  • Hi Sarah,

    I was diagnosed with two separate ovarian cancers in july 2008 when I had emergency surgery for a huge ovarian cyst that had taken over my abdomen!

    Surgeon thought it was an chocolate endometrial cyst when he operated, but the labs discovered that I had clear cell tumour in one ovary and endometrioid tumour in the other- different stages, cell types and primaries- apparently very rare. I do have a history of ovca on both sides of my family (kind of a sitting duck!), but didn't discover the extent until they asked me to dig as apparently two unrelated cancers at the same time can signal it might be genetic so they asked about family history.

    Genetic tests later (tumour and BRACA 1 & 2) I'm none the wiser, but have been very lucky in that surgery and treatment have worked well so far and I've had no recurrence. Hope things go well for you.

    Polly xx

  • Hi Polly

    Glad to hear that you have had no more reacurrences, what is a Chocolate endometrial cyst?? I'm not even sure what the difference is between a clear cell tumour or an endometrioid tumour, but I will google them, so you don't have to explain it to me lol, but I understand what you are saying about them being unrelated.

    Oncologist said to me that the only other time they really see unrelated cancers in people if they haven't got family history of it, is if you have HIV, which I assured her I haven't got.

    Thanks for letting me know, and I will google tomorrow to find out about your different tumours,.

    Lots of love Sarah xx

  • Hi Sarah,I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins lymphoma in May 2009 and was treated with aggresssive chemo and luckily went into remission in the November of 2009. My onc told me it takes 10yrs (I,d like some views on this girls) Before he could say i was 'cured'. Then during ia routine check up with a scan in Aug 2011 they found a small tumour on my right ovary. I was advised to have a total abdominal hysterectomy which i did and they found that it was ovarian cancer which also involved the peritoneum and the omentum.

    I asked if it was metasised from the lymphoma and it wasnt so i too , although further apart have 2 different cancers. Hope you recover well from your treatment. Have hope i just finshed my chemo and was told on Th urs i am in remission!! Will say a prayer for your recovery Love Lynn XXXX

  • Hi Lynn

    Thanks for you reply, I am so pleased for you that you are in remission, I bet you are so relieved. I know I am just at the beginning of what I imagine is going to be a long journey and life will probably never be the same again. I am still not very clued up on all the technical terms, and the different types of ovarian cancer that there are. All I know is I was stage 2 ovarian, and stage 2 breast cancer too. I have taken all my tablets today, ready to start chemo tomorrow, so no doubt I will let you all know how I am feeling from time to time.

    Thanks for your prayer, that means a lot.

    Love Sarah xxxx

  • Hi,

    I was diagnosed Sage 3c March 2010, and had full hysterectomy, omentum, part of bowel removed etc. I found out accidentally...much later on that I alsohad my appendix removed and that the appendix had a different cancer. Because of that I can't take part in a trials!xx

  • Hi Florence

    I have seen trials mentioned a few times, and see that on this site they ask if people have been asked to take part in trials. Is it generally considered to be a good thing to do? My step Mum had breast cancer stage 3 and is now 5 years clear, and she took part in a trial, so it obviously was a good choice for her.

    So how are you at the moment then? Has the cancer come back, or didn't they manage to get it all successfully? Did they not mention to you at the time that they had removed your appendix too, cos that sounds proper wrong to keep you in the dark about something so important. Sorry if it seems like I am being really nosey, I always ask too many questions, my husband always asks if I'm undercover CID lol.

    Love Sarah xxxx

  • You must be devasted but I had breast cancer 16yrs ago then again 5 years ago both successfully dealt with. Feb2011 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer stage 4 grade 2c. Had chemo carboplatin and taxol which I was told I had responded very well. Had to go into hospital for my lung to be drained had a scan and have been told OC returned I also feel terrified. Seeing my onc. Friday and really dreading it. I was told by my GP that I was unlucky but unfortunately you can have both. I wish you all the best and send hugs love nikkix

  • Hi Nikki, really sorry that OC has come back, I wish you all the best for Friday, and although I know I don't know you, I will be thinking of you, and if you have time, please let me know how you get on. You have obviously been through more than anyone should have to go through in the last 16 years, you must be one of lifes soldiers.

    I start my chemo tomorrow, but I am not dreading it, just want to get it started.

    There is such a lot to get my head round, and so much to learn, I'm sure you know all there is to know about it all, so I might ask you advice now and again if that is ok.

    Hope to hear from you soon, good luck, love Sarah xxxx

  • Any time Sarah I will try to help you best of luck with the chemo thinking of you and sending you a big hug niikki xxx

  • Hi Sarah,

    I was diagnosed with OC in 1910 and had full hysterectomy, omentrum and appendix, part of the bowel removed on 5th November less than a week after diagnosis and 2 weeks after 1st consultation. I was told the cancer had spread but when they did the surgery my good news that it wasn`t so bad after all. The tumour was the size of a small melon too and although the cancer had spread to part of the colon it was caught in the nic of time and staged at a 2c.

    the not so good news for me, my cancer was high grade 3 which means it is more likely to spread or return. However, I was told that a high grade tumour will respond better to the carbo/taxol than a low grade, so that kind of swung things round for me.

    I want to tell you - that not once have I been told that OC is likely to return, I have only read this on the internet. I have a good medical team looking after me at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge where the OC research is done - along side London. This team are so clued up with the latest research and they always tell me "IF" it comes back. They tell me not to take too much notice of the internet because it is so out of date ( 5 yrs). I have to belive andf trust in what they tell me.

    Because my mum had OC and my brother colon - I was referred to genetics.

    I have the faulty braca 1 gene, the shocking news was that I now have 85% chance of BC.

    I am waiting for my referral appointment with the surgeon to talk about double mastectomy as a prevention. I just pray we get them off in time!!!!!

    Yes, I have been made aware that I can have two cancers going on at the same time, and although OV and BC are linked to the hormones, the menopause and the faulty gene they are indeed treated as seperate cancers.

    You have no idea how relieved I was to hear that there is a chmo to treat both types at the same time. You have no idea how reasurring that was to hear, thank you.

    I would always like to share with you that - my oncologist is hopeful for a cure of the OC so all I can do now is keep praying.

    Both your cancers are considered to be caught at an early stage (which means before spreading), your chances of cure are looking good sweetheart.

    I will add you and many others to my prayer list.

    It was also reasurring to hear that its actually better to have two types of cancer`s going on than one that has spread.

    Sending you healing thoughts, take good care of yourself

    love Tina xxx

  • Hi Sarah You asked if it's normal to have two different types of cancer you are right it is very rare. While I am a guy I had testicular cancer it was stage 2b and a brain tumor. I was going threw BEP at the time after one week I wasn't drinking Gatoraid or poweraid and because of that I was dehydrated I passed out and they found a oglioastrocytoma it was over 10 years old that tumor was a big brain tumor 6.4 cm by 3cm by 3cm or in the usa 2.5 inches by 1 in by 1 in. I finished chemo first and then after that I had an MRI to see if the brain tumor grew which it had not yet so they decided to continue on the cancer that could be cured. I had the post chemo retro peritoneal lymph node dissection they took out 30 lymph nodes and I have noticed now I am more apt to get a cold. Then two months later I had the brain surgery and the two cancers are not related.

  • My wife had a relapse of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (stage 3) in 2013 after 13 years. The CT scan used to look at the spread also revealed Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the lung (stage 1, or T2a). It's hard to say she was lucky but the lung cancer would not have been spotted at such an early stage without the scan because there were no symptoms at the time. The lung cancer was removed by surgery and then the lymphoma was treated with chemotherapy which finished last month. We are still progressing in the right direction. It is hard to find useful information regarding two unrelated cancers at the same time but it does occur.

  • I am nearly 59 & just had 1/3 ( bottom lobe) of my right lung removed due to a adenocarcinoma the size of a grain of wild rice. The biopsy prior to the surgery showed it to be a new primary cancer unrelated to the cervical cancer that was discovered almost 2 years to the day prior to the lung cancer. I had chemo & radiation after a full hysterectomy to remove that cancer which had spread to the endometrium & 1 ovary. I was thrilled that I had 2 primaries since I was very afraid of a metastasized cancer. So I had 2 different primary cancers discovered 2 years to the day from 1 another. I am worried that I will have another lung cancer or a 3rd primary will pop up. After each surgery & treatment for the cancer, I was told I had an 80% chance of being free of that cancer for 5 years or longer -- not returning. So everyone I've spoken to seems to think my experience is unusual. But maybe not as unusual as I've thought?

  • Welcome!

    I don't quite fit your bill but am very similar. TNBC diagnosed Dec 2008. Almost 2 years to the day later OC diagnosed. Unconnected. Neither oestregen receptive. Stage 1 grade 3 in both cases. I've had the genetic testing and am not BRACA. My consultant feels there's a yet to be specified BRACA like tendency into which I would fit.

    I deduce from you having TAC ( just mugged up) that your BC is triple negative. You're more typical, being younger, than I was. This is good because of the treatment overlap with OC. TAC looks to be a better combo than the one I had 5 years ago (mine didn't include taxotere). I too wasn't made aware of the OC recurrence rate and almost 2 years to the day (again) signs of my first recurrence appeared. The good news is I've been signed off for the BC having reached 5 years. Had last OC treatment end Dec 2013 and am feeling very well. There's much more info available now on TNBC than 5 years ago and there are a few other women on here having had both. I found Dr Google a real downer when I first started out with all this and would advise avoiding it. But these forums are a wonderful source of information, experience and support.

    I think none of us knows what to think or feel having been handed these rotten throws of the dice and most of us go through a range of feelings and up and down, not always predictably. However wonderful the support we get, the feelings remain. We all work through them in different ways and at different paces. I have a slightly older Ben than you!

    Hope all goes well for you on Monday.... Keep us posted.

    Love Chris

  • I was first diagnosed with breat cancer in 2008 and it came back in 2012 along with adenocarcinoma in my lung

  • I was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in Dec, had surgery to remove that cancer, and lo and behold  they found a surprise  and very rare cancer totally unrelated in the appendix; Signet Ring Cell Carcinoma..  and next week I go to have a mass in my breast rechecked..

  • Hi Wheezeerider....

    Welcome to this site which is a support site for women with ovarian cancer.

    I hope you can find a similar site or sites for your cancers.

    Just a tip though if you do.....  check how long ago a posting was made (many of us get caught out with this).

    There's no system in place on this site for dealing with the unfortunate fact that some of the participants have died and we don't always know. Their posts live on. It can be upsetting for their friends when conversations are reactivated.

    You've got a lot on your plate at the moment and I wish you well with it all.

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