Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Elizabeth Edwards' Breast Cancer Back

Tests Reveal Cancer Has Spread to the Bone
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 22, 2007 -- Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, announced Thursday that her breast cancer, originally diagnosed in 2004, has returned.

At a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., Elizabeth Edwards, who is 57, told reporters that doctors had discovered cancer on a rib on her right side.

The news prompted speculation that her husband might suspend or call off his run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. But John Edwards said doctors informed the couple that there was no medical reason to suspend the campaign and that it would continue.

"The campaign goes on. The campaign goes on strongly," he said.

Cancer that spreads to bone is generally incurable. Still, patients can live for years if the cancers are controlled, according to experts.

Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer on the last day of her husband's unsuccessful vice presidential bid on a ticket with Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

A cracked rib sustained while moving furniture last week prompted Elizabeth Edwards to go to a doctor. An X-ray of the rib, on her left side, also revealed a spot on a different rib on her right side. That spot was eventually diagnosed as malignant.

Elizabeth Edwards said she would begin a new round of cancer treatment but that doctors had told her the treatment would not force her to quit campaigning. "Honestly, there is no medical reason why we should," she said.

Cancer Primarily in Bone

Lisa Carey, MD, Elizabeth Edwards' physician, says additional, smaller spots of malignancy had been spotted in her body. Results from further tests will largely guide treatment decisions -- and are due back in several days.

"Her cancer looks like it's primarily in the bone. There may be some other sites, but they're very small and not as clear," Carey says.

Prognosis varies widely for patients like Elizabeth Edwards, says Aman Buzdar, MD, the deputy chair of breast medical oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"It is not as grave as it used to be," Buzdar says of cases like that of Elizabeth Edwards. "If anything it carries a somewhat more favorable prognosis" than other forms of cancer, he says.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW