What Happens If Immunotherapy Doesnt Work
If you’ve tried every treatment for your cancer and nothing has worked, you might want to take part in a clinical trial. Scientists use them to test new ways to treat cancer to see if they’re safe and if they work. A clinical trial gives you a chance to try a new cancer treatment that isn’t available to everyone.
Metastatic Breast Cancer: What You Should Know
What does it mean to have metastatic, or stage 4, breast cancer? A Rogel Cancer Center oncologist explains the diagnosis and how its treated.
After hearing a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, a rush of questions emerges. But often, its not until long after leaving the doctors office.
Metastatic means the cancer has spread beyond the breast and immediate lymph nodes to other organs or tissues in the body, most often the bones, brain, lungs or liver. Its considered stage 4 breast cancer, which means the cancer has progressed to its most advanced stage.
But even though its moved to other organs, it still behaves like breast cancer and is treated with breast cancer therapies.
More than 154,000 U.S. women are estimated to have metastatic breast cancer, according to the Susan G. Komen organization. Men can have metastatic breast cancer too, but its rare.
To help patients fill in information gaps, N. Lynn Henry, M.D., Ph.D., the breast oncology disease lead for the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, explains the nuances of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
What are the differences between metastatic breast cancer, stage 4 breast cancer and advanced cancer?
If any doctor uses the term advanced, ask for clarification, Henry adds.
When does metastatic breast cancer appear?
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of bone metastases:
Case : Complete Remission Of Stage Iv Melanoma With Ip6 Food Supplement
Inositol hexaphosphate plus inositol induced complete remission in stage IV melanoma: a case report
A case report from Department of Hematology/Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida, USA: a 59-year-old male with metastatic melanoma declined traditional therapy and opted to try over the counter supplement IP6+inositol instead. To his doctors surprise, the patient achieved a complete remission and remains in remission 3 years later, after using IP6+inositol alone.
Images above: Computated tomography with the contrast of the chest before and 2 years after starting inositol hexaphosphate+inositol showing complete radiologic resolution of the upper right hilar lymph node.
Also Check: What Blood Test Can Detect Breast Cancer
Why You May Need Treatment While In Remission
Because there are still cancer cells in your body even when youre in remission, you might have treatment during remission. This reduces the risk that the remaining cancer cells will start growing again.
Whether or not you have treatment during remission, youll be watched closely to make sure that your cancer doesnt become active again.
The most common type of treatment during remission is maintenance chemotherapy. This is chemo thats given regularly to stop the cancer from spreading.
Maintenance therapy shouldnt make you feel worse. If you find that the side effects start to become too much for you, talk to your doctor. They may take you off maintenance therapy.
Maintenance therapy may also become less effective over time, in which case your doctor may stop the therapy to help ensure your cancer doesnt become resistant to chemo.
For some people, cancer remission can last a lifetime. Others may have their cancer come back, which is called a recurrence.
types of cancer recurrence
- Local. The cancer comes back in the place it was originally found.
- Regional. The cancer comes back in lymph nodes and tissues near the original cancer site.
- Distant. The cancer comes back in other places throughout the body .
The chance of recurrence depends on many things, including the type of cancer you had, what stage the cancer was found in, and your overall health.
The outlook for the five most common types of cancers is:
Support For Living With Secondary Breast Cancer
Everyones experience of being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer is different, and people cope in their own way.
For many people,;uncertainty;can be the hardest part of living with secondary breast cancer.
You may find it helpful to talk to someone else whos had a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.
- Chat to other people living with secondary breast cancer on;our;online Forum.
- Meet other women with a secondary diagnosis and get information and support at a;Living with Secondary Breast Cancer;meet-up.
- Live Chat;is a weekly private chat room where you can talk about whatever is on your mind.
You can also call Breast Cancer Nows;Helpline;free on;0808 800 6000.
Also Check: What Happens If You Have Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Starting To Think The Stats Might Be Old Or Just Plain Wrong
Since my diagnosis on June 13, 2012 I’ve been scouring various information sources including this web site and others like it.
Despite the dire predictions of two-years following diagnosis, I keep seeing more and more people on these boards who are beating those odds. Granted some by only one-year but many, many others who are going out eight, 10, 12, and even a couple of third-party references to people who have survived 20 years.
I think something that would be very valuable from a morale point of view would be if the ACS or CRC Alliance or other group would collect some data and see what’s really happening in terms of Stage IV Colon Cancer. In my unscientific opinion, I’m seeing way too many who are outliving the averages for the average to be correct.
Stage : Kim Green Has Lived With Metastatic Breast Cancer For Past 19 Years
Kim Green defies the odds for those living with incurable metastatic breast cancer. Her mother died of metastatic breast cancer at 37, but Green has been living with it for 19 years.
Green has endured more than 60 surgeries since she found a lump in her breast when she was 34 and six months pregnant. Doctors got clean margins after performing a lumpectomy. Shortly afterward she gave birth to her son, born prematurely. She began chemo treatments a week after his birth, followed by a bilateral mastectomy.
Yet, four months after treatment ended, she woke up one morning with a tumor on her neck the size of a golf ball.
When cancer spreads from its original source to another part of the body, its metastatic or stage 4 cancer. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, and the median life expectancy is 24 months. The number of metastatic breast cancer patients living longer and well with the disease keeps inching up, doctors say. But ultimately, people die from it.
People with stage 4 breast cancer live longer because of new and better drugs that prolong the time when people feel good. There have been 15 new drugs in the past 15 years, says Dr. Lajos Pusztai, director of Breast Cancer Translational Research at the Yale Cancer Center and professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine.
Read Also: Is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Deadly
How Can You Tell If Immunotherapy Is Working
How will you know the immunotherapy is working? You will have regular check-ups with your cancer specialist, blood tests and different types of scans to check whether the cancer has responded to treatment. It may take some time to know if immunotherapy has worked because some people have a delayed response.
How Long You Can Live With Cancer
Cancer survival rates often use a five-year survival rate. That doesnt mean cancer cant recur beyond five years. Certain cancers can recur many years after first being found and treated. For some cancers, if it has not recurred by five years after initial diagnosis, the chance of a later recurrence is very small.
Also Check: What Are Tumor Markers For Breast Cancer
Local Or Regional Treatments For Stage Iv Breast Cancer
Although systemic drugs are the main treatment for stage IV breast cancer, local and regional treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, or regional chemotherapy are sometimes used as well. These can help treat breast cancer in a specific part of the body, but they are very unlikely to get rid of all of the cancer. These treatments are more likely to be used to help prevent or treat symptoms or complications from the cancer.
Radiation therapy and/or surgery may also be used in certain situations, such as:
- When the breast tumor is causing an open wound in the breast
- To treat a small number of metastases in a certain area, such as the brain
- To help prevent bone fractures
- When an area of cancer spread is pressing on the spinal cord
- To treat a blood vessel blockage in the liver
- To provide relief of pain or other symptoms
In some cases, regional chemo may be useful as well.
If your doctor recommends such local or regional treatments, it is important that you understand their goalwhether it is to try to cure the cancer or to prevent or treat symptoms.
Many Women Live For Decades With Metastatic Breast Cancer
A stage 4 diagnosis is not an instant death sentence, says Renee Sendelbach, 40, from Austin, Texas, who was diagnosed seven years ago, when she learned that her breast cancer had moved into her lungs, bones, and lymph nodes.
Ive had metastatic breast cancer for five years and Im still kicking, says Susan Rosen, 53, from Franklin, Massachusetts.
According to a 2017 article in the journal;Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 34 percent of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have been living with the disease for five years or longer.
The goal of treatment is to keep patients on their feet as long as possible so that they can continue to do what they want to do, says;Gretchen Kimmick, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina.
In recent years, treatment for breast cancer has vastly improved, largely because doctors are able to more accurately target therapy to the type of breast cancer a woman has. The discovery of the HER2 protein and medicines that block it has revolutionized treatment for women with cancers that overexpress this protein, Dr. Kimmick says. This cancer was pretty deadly two decades ago, and now we are starting to debate if weve cured it in some women.
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Staging And Grading For Stage 4 Cancer
Most cancers are staged using some form of the TNM system. Doctors may also use the TNM system to help determine the extent of certain cancers in each stage. The TNM system stands for:
- T , or the size of the original tumor
- N , or whether the cancer is present in the lymph nodes
- M , or whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
Not all cancers are staged using the TNM system, though. Some cancers, especially liquid cancers, are staged through different established protocols. The Binet and Rai systems, for example, are used to stage certain types of leukemia. Female reproductive system cancers, such as cervical cancer, are staged with a separate staging system created by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics .
As your care team gathers information about your cancer for the purposes of staging, they may need to order several tests, including:
Your care team may likely also need to perform a biopsy, a procedure that involves removing a sample of cells and analyzing it for signs of cancer. Imaging scans may be able to tell your care team where your cancer is, but looking at the cancer cells specifically tell them how fast they are likely to growor what grade they are.
Grading is different from staging and is done for most, but not all, cancers.
The grade of your cancer is part of how your cancer care team stages your cancer and determines your prognosis, or outlook.
Will It Come Back
It can. This is called recurrence. But if youre in remission, your breast cancer probably wont come back. Most people with breast cancer never have a recurrence. But its possible. Sometimes, cancer cells linger even after treatment and then multiply later. It may happen months or years after you finish treatment.
There are different types of recurrence:
Local recurrence is when the cancer returns to your breast, chest wall, or lymph nodes. If you had a lumpectomy, it may show up in the breast tissue thats still there. If you had a mastectomy, it can affect the tissue in your skin or chest wall. If it returns to nearby lymph nodes, doctors will call it a regional recurrence.
Local recurrence usually happens within the first 5 years after youve been diagnosed.
You may hear the doctor call this metastasis.
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Factors Associated With Long
Patients who were younger at diagnosis of inoperable locoregional recurrent or metastatic disease and had a good performance status exhibited a trend towards longer TTP in the univariate analysis . In addition, best response to trastuzumab treatment had an influence on TTP . Interruption of trastuzumab treatment was associated with shorter TTP . We could not observe an influence of tumor size, grading, hormone receptor status, nodal status or disease-free survival in univariate analysis. The absence of distant metastases at the onset of trastuzumab treatment or the initial combination of trastuzumab with endocrine therapy or chemotherapy had also no impact on TTP .
Table 4 Association of clinicopathological and treatment characteristics with time to tumor progression
In the multivariate analyses, interruption of trastuzumab treatment turned out to be associated with shorter TTP .
Stage 4 Still In Remission
This tread is still alive. I’m sure you are scared about your diagnosis but I am stage 4 colon cancer that spread to my liver in 2010. I had surgery in June 2011 and have been blessed to be in remission since then. This June will be 6 years. I thank God everyday to have survived to live another day.
Vickilg passed away several years ago now.
Dx almost 11 years ago Stage 4. I have been clear for over 5 years now with NED.
Best to all
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Is All Remission The Same
No. There are two types:
Partial: Treatments have killed off most of your cancer cells, but tests show you still have some in your body. Your tumor has shrunk at least to half of its original size or hasnât grown bigger. Your doctor may also say itâs stable.
Complete: All signs of your cancer and its symptoms are gone.
There Are Good Days And Bad Days
There are days when I say to myself, Ive had enough. I cant take it anymore, says Rosen. But I want to keep on living. I love my life. Overall, I have a great life except for the cancer.
Rosen has a few mantras she uses when things get tough. A lot of the tough times are treatment related, she says. I refer to those as bumps in the road, and , This too shall pass.
Read Also: Does Breast Cancer Hurt To The Touch
Treatment Options For Stage Iv Breast Cancer
For women with stage IV breast cancer, systemic therapies are the main treatments. These may include:
- Some combination of these
Treatment can often shrink tumors , improve symptoms, and help women live longer. These cancers are considered incurable.
Will I Need More Than One Treatment For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Medications are important for metastatic breast cancer to help control its spread. Resistance to therapies may develop, which can lead your care team to recommend a change in treatment.
When you start a treatment regimen, you and your care team will see how:
- The cancer responds to the therapy.
- The side effects impact you.
If the treatment isnt working or the side effects are unbearable, your care team can discuss switching the treatment method. They may recommend a different drug, dosage or schedule.
There are many treatments available. If one therapy isnt working for you for whatever reason, there is usually another one you can try.
Remission In Stage Iv Is Long Term Possible
|Jul 29, 2012 – 1:35 pm|
Does anyone know how long someone in Stage IV can go into remission? Is there any people that go into remission for years?
I believe that all the statistics for the 5 year survival rates for Stage IV…. are 5 years old
therefore, anyone who answers this question in a Negative fashion, is living in the past.
the response that Avastin had just come out in 05 tells you exactly that.
I believe that Avastin and Erbitux are drugs that can give us all the hope and believe and reason to fight. new drugs and new treatments come out often, therefore our job is to fight for 5 years at a time… and more stuff will come out to help us should our cancer return.
There are several people that I’ve heard from that were Stage IV’ers… yet have been NED for 5, 10, 15 years. Yes the statistics tell us that very few life that long… but I believe that the positive people on this web site all have a REASON to fight and we are all learning more options and ideas on how to live to keep the cancer at bay.
I believe that if you believe you are going to beat this stuff… that you will.
fight, live and love
I am going on 4 years in remission.
Joe, you rock, love the attitude.
Health, love and laughter