What Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Cancer cells might have traveled through your lymphatic system to your lungs, bones, liver, brain, or other organs.
Stage 4 is the most serious and life threatening stage of breast cancer. Most often, stage 4 breast cancer develops long after a person has first been diagnosed with cancer. In rare cases, the cancer may have progressed to stage 4 at the time a person is first diagnosed.
Facing stage 4 breast cancer can be challenging. But following your doctors recommended treatment plan and practicing healthy lifestyle habits can help to improve your outcome. It may significantly increase your lifespan and improve your quality of life.
End Of Life Concerns With Metastatic Breast Cancer
Despite encouraging advances in breast cancer treatment that have dramatically prolonged survival even when diagnosed at a metastatic stage, there still is a significant group of less fortunate patients that die from this condition every year.
The usual scenario goes like this: People with metastatic breast cancer want to talk about these concerns, but are afraid to upset their loved onesso they stay quiet. On the other side, loved ones are afraid of upsetting you by talking about the end of life issuesso they say nothing.
The same holds true even for patients and oncologists, and studies tell us that these conversations take place much less often than they should.
Many people fear these discussions are a sign of giving up. However, talking about your wishes does not mean you are giving up at all. It does not mean that you have lost hope that you will be one of the people who live for decades with stage 4 breast cancer. What it means, instead, is that you want your decisions to be thought out, and not left to chance. It’s a way to communicate your wishes before circumstances may force you to do so.
The best place to start is with the most important step. How can you begin these discussions with your loved ones?
Unique Challenges For Young Adults
Breast cancer in young adults is just different. We are at a different phase of our lives and encounter unique challenges compared to older persons. These challenges may significantly impact our quality and length of life. Some of the unique challenges and issues young adults face:
- The possibility of early menopause and sexual dysfunction brought on by breast cancer treatment
- Fertility issues, because breast cancer treatment can affect a womanâs ability and plans to have children
- Many young women are raising small children while enduring treatment and subsequent side effects
- Young breast cancer survivors have a higher prevalence of psychosocial issues such as anxiety and depression13
- Questions about pregnancy after diagnosis
- Heightened concerns about body image, especially after breast cancer-related surgery and treatment
- Whether married or single, intimacy issues may arise for women diagnosed with breast cancer
- Challenges to financial stability due to workplace issues, lack of sufficient health insurance and the cost of cancer care
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Estimated Number Of Deaths In The Us From Breast Cancer
The above bar chart shows the estimated number of female deaths from breast cancer, according to age group, in 2017.
These estimated figures are from the American Cancer Society based on data gathered between 2000 and 2014 from the National Center for Health Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Due to the statistical methods involved to obtain the projected mortality estimates, this graph should not be compared with other mortality rates.
Mortality Rates Per 100000 Women Per Year By 10 Year Age Group
The relative mortality rate from breast cancer per 100000 women is given below.
On a relative basis, the largest rate of change occurs between the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups. However, the increase in mortality rates is not as great for the 60-69 group, but more or less doubles for the 70-79 and 80+ age groups.
The rate of breast cancer mortality has decreased by about 25% since the early 1990s, and the main reason for this decline is participation in organized breast cancer screening programs.
Breast cancer mortality has seen the greatest decline in younger women. Another area of decline in deaths is in women with estrogen and progesterone receptor-positive tumors. This is probably due to improvements in adjuvant systemic therapy.
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Trends In Breast Cancer Deaths
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 39 .
Since 2007, breast cancer death rates have been steady in women younger than 50, but have continued to decrease in older women. From 2013 to 2018, the death rate went down by 1% per year.
These decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments.
Where Do These Numbers Come From
The American Cancer Society relies on information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.
The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for breast cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:
- Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast.
- Regional: The cancer has spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
- Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or bones.
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Incidence Rates And The Number Of New Cases
To know whether or not breast cancer rates are changing over time, you have to compare rates, rather than the number of new cases.
For example, lets compare the number of new cases of breast cancer in U.S. in 2009 to the number of new cases in 2016. In 2009, there were an estimated 192,370 new cases of breast cancer in U.S. women . In 2016, there were an estimated 246,660 new cases .
Although more breast cancer cases occurred in 2016 than in 2009, this doesnt mean the rate of breast cancer increased over this time period.
We expect the number of cases to increase over time because the population of the U.S. increases over time . The more people there are, the more cancers there will be.
Our population is also living longer . Since age increases the risk of breast cancer, we expect to have more breast cancers over time.
To know if breast cancer rates are changing over time, we look at incidence rates, rather than the number of new cases. The incidence rate shows the number of breast cancer cases in a set population size. Its usually written as the number of cases in a population of 100,000 people.
The breast cancer incidence rate among women in 2009 was 131 and the estimated breast cancer incidence rate in 2016 was also 131 . This means there were 131 breast cancer cases per 100,000 women in the U.S. population in both time periods.
So, although the number of breast cancer cases increased over time, breast cancer rates were fairly stable.
How Are Cancer Deaths Measured
Experts sometimes measure cancer deaths as a simple count. But if you want to make comparisons between places or over time, it can help to measure it as a cancer death rate.
The death rate is the number of deaths divided by the number of people. To find out how many die for every 100,000 people, you can multiply this number by 100,000.
Itâs possible for the actual number of deaths to go up at the same time that the death rate is going down. Thatâs whatâs happening in the U.S. The number of deaths is going up as more people get older. But the cancer death rate for everyone in the country is going down.
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How Quickly Do I Need To Start Treatment For My Breast Cancer
When you’re first diagnosed, it may feel like there is pressure on you to decide on a treatment plan rightaway. But Dr. Lisa Newman, a breast cancer surgery specialist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, advises clients to take a beat to process everything and make the right decision for you.
“You should not feel that you are ‘racing the clock’ the cancer is not spreading or becoming more advanced in your breast or your body by the day,” Newman said. “You have the time to make sure that you are properly informed about your cancer diagnosis and treatment options before jumping into something irreversible.”
Can You Die From Stage Two Breast Cancer
A breast cancer diagnosis is a lot to take in not only on the patient but friends and family, and one common question that arises is can you die from stage two breast cancer?
There is no definite answer to this question as individuals respond differently to medications. And though estimates have been done to project ones survival rate, it is important to remain positive as you go through the treatment.
After the treatment, some people regain full health and enjoy many years, while others may experience a recurrence in the growth of cancer which affects the survival rate.
The good thing about detecting breast cancer at an early stage is the likelihood to get better is higher as the cancerous cells have not affected other parts of the body which may make it hard for the body to recover fully.
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Survival Rates By Race
White women in the United States are most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Between 2013 and 2017, 131.3 per 100,000 white women were diagnosed with the disease.
There is, however, variation within that group: non-Hispanic white women were far more likely to have been diagnosed than Hispanic white women.
Black women are the second most likely group to get breast cancer , followed by Asian and Pacific Island women , Hispanic , and American Indian and Alaska Native women .
Survival rates also vary according to race and ethnicity.
From 2013 to 2017, Asian and Pacific Islander women had the lowest death rate, at 11.4 per 100,000 women. This was followed by Hispanic women , American Indian and Alaska Native women , white women , and non-Hispanic white women .
Black women had the highest death rate, at 27.6 per 100,000 women, despite being the second most likely group to get breast cancer.
This could possibly be due to a lack of access to care. seem to affect disparity in breast cancer mortality. These include:
The most important factor that affects breast cancer survival is whether the cancer has metastasized, or spread to other body organs. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chance of treating breast cancer before it advances.
Some types of breast cancer are more aggressive than others. Five-year survival rates tend to be lower for women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer .
Health Disparities In Young African Americans
In addition to these unique issues, research has shown that young African American women face even greater challenges.
- African American women under age 35 have rates of breast cancer two times higher than caucasian women under age 35.14
- African Americans under age 35 die from breast cancer three times as often as caucasian women of the same age.14
- Researchers believe that access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare available may explain these disparities. But scientists continue to investigate.
- Research also shows that young African Americans are more likely to get aggressive forms of breast cancer than anyone else.14
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Take Action To Change Young Adult Breast Cancer Statistics
When all young adults affected by breast cancer work together, we can raise awareness, improve our representation in research and make each other stronger. We are dedicated to these goals, working to turn our unique challenges into opportunities for shared success. Join the movement! Become an advocate for young women with breast cancer.
Noncancer Causes Of Death Within 1 To 5 Years After Bc Diagnosis
In total, 84,541 women with BC died within 1 to 5 years after cancer diagnosis, of whom 49,545 died from BC , 7564 died from other cancers , and 27,432 died from noncancer causes. The most common noncancer cause of death during the period was diseases of the heart , followed by cerebrovascular diseases , COPD , and Alzheimer disease . The risk of death from any noncancer cause did not significantly increase within 1 to 5 years after BC diagnosis compared with the general population .
Causes of death within 1 to 5 years after BC diagnosis in specific subgroups according to demographic-related and tumor-related characteristics generally followed trends similar to those in the overall population .
Black patients with BC and patients who were diagnosed with BC at ages < 40 years had a significantly higher risk of death from cardiac or renal diseases within 1 to 5 years after their cancer diagnosis . Conversely, white patients with BC and patients who had regional BC had a significantly higher risk of death from chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis . Native American/Alaska Native patients had a higher risk of death from cardiac, renal, or hepatic diseases .
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How Cancer Causes Death
Even though cancer can lead to death, it’s not necessarily cancer that causes someone to die. Causes of cancer deaths can include:
- Organ failure due to the size and stress of a tumor
- Complications during surgery
- Organ rupture due to tumor size
- Infection due to the immune system’s ability to fight off illness while on cancer treatment
Since all the organs in our body connect one way or another, all it takes is for one to begin shutting down, and the rest may start to follow suit. In the end, the person with cancer passes away.
Depending on the type of cancer, the cause of death can vary. Here are some more details on how cancer can cause death.
What Is Hospice Care
Hospice care is a type of palliative care, and like palliative care it is more of a philosophy than a place. Many people receive hospice care in their own home, though hospice facilities may be available as well. A typical hospice team includes a physician who specializes in end of life care, hospice nurses, social workers, and chaplains. Its care that seeks to maintain the comfort and dignity of a person and his or her family for as long as he or she lives, while no longer attempting to cure or slow the progress of a serious or terminal disease.
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Metastatic Breast Cancer At Diagnosis
Most often, metastatic breast cancer arises months or years after a person has completed treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer.
Some people have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed. This is called de novo metastatic breast cancer. In the U.S., 9 percent of men have metastases when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer .
Learn more about metastatic breast cancer.
Age At Diagnosis And Mortality Rates
In the past younger women tended to have a poorer prognosis.
One medical study examined 4,453 women with breast cancer over a 30 year period, all treated at the same center. The study showed that in general, women under the age of 40 years had a statistically poorer prognosis.
Furthermore, older ladies, over the age of 80 years at diagnosis also had a poorer prognosis.
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Its Never Too Late To Exercise
Exercise is important for your overall mental and physical health. Since fatigue is often a symptom associated with stage 4 breast cancer, it can help to plan your exercise during your most energetic time of day.
Consistency is key. Its better to exercise in small amounts every day than to follow an extreme pattern of occasional intense activity between long periods of inactivity.
While there are potential benefits to exercise when you have stage 4 cancer, its important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.
Also, your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding public places, like gyms, because of your risk for germ exposure.
Safety is always a concern when you have stage 4 breast cancer. Bleeding and risks of injury are important considerations.
Some women experience balance and foot numbness problems due to their treatments and fatigue. If this is the case, its best to do exercises that put you at less risk for falls. An example could be riding a stationary bicycle instead of running on a treadmill.
There might not be a direct link between exercise and stage 4 breast cancer survival rates, but you can reap other benefits from regular exercise.
For example, it may help you:
- lose excess body fat
- improve your quality of life
- reduce side effects from treatment