What Are The Final Stages Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Most of the time, metastatic breast cancer affects the bones, lungs, brain, or liver.Brain metastasis symptomsheadache.changes in vision.hearing difficulties.balance problems or dizziness.difficulty moving certain parts of the body.changes in mood or personality.memory problems.confusion.More itemsNov 28, 2018
When Do People Get A Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Metastatic breast cancer can occur at different points:
- De novo metastatic breast cancer: About 6% of women and 9% of men have metastatic breast cancer when theyre first diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Distant recurrence: Most commonly, metastatic breast cancer is diagnosed after the original breast cancer treatment. A recurrence refers to the cancer coming back and spreading to a different part of the body, which can happen even years after the original diagnosis and treatment.
What Doesn’t Affect Survival
Just as there are factors associated with a better or worse prognosis, there are some factors that do not appear to make a big difference. These are generally less understood by the general public:
- Aggressiveness of treatment
- Having a positive attitude
The goal of treatment for metastatic breast cancer is often very different than that of early-stage disease, and this can raise anxiety among patients and loved ones of patients. With early-stage breast cancer, the goal is usually to be aggressive in order to reduce the risk that the cancer will come back.
In contrast, with stage 4 disease, the goal is usually to use the minimum amount of treatment possible to control the disease . Studies have found that more aggressive treatment does not improve survival rates but does reduce quality of life.
While having a good attitude may improve your sense of well-being, it has not been shown to affect survival rates. In fact, holding in negative emotions in order to appear positive may be detrimental to your health in general.
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Is It Legal To Use Opioids In Hospice
The legal use of opioid medications for pain is totally appropriate and a welcome relief from the severe pain that plagues many hospice patients. The terminally ill patient who suffers from severe pain needs these medications to relieve that pain. Using opioid medications for the terminally ill patient is truly compassionate and humane.
Myth #: People With Metastatic Breast Cancer Look Sick And Lose Their Hair
You dont look sick. You look so well. Why do you still have your hair? Are you sure you have cancer? These are comments that people with MBC report hearing. But there are many treatment options besides chemotherapy, and people often appear well while taking them.
As NancyHB comments: Id much rather be a poster child for how sometimes we can live with, rather than die from, MBC at least for a while. Instead, I find myself defending against people who are increasingly becoming impatient with my lack of cancer-patient appearance. Im grateful for this time of feeling good, and theyre harshing my buzz.
Some people with MBC report that they actually look better than they feel while in treatment. So they sometimes have to let family and friends know that even though they appear fine, they dont feel well.
Shetland Pony notes: If she looks good, she is good. Nope. Many of us suffer from the invisible disability of fatigue. I would venture to say every available treatment causes us some level of fatigue. We struggle to keep up. It may look like we are doing the bare minimum when we are really giving it our all.
JoE777 of Texas adds: The new normals advertised about therapies on TV are deceiving about the side effects. They talk about side effects while women are skipping through life. not looking to show the harsh side effects but think there is something wrong with me that my life is not like that.
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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.
Myth #: If Youre Diagnosed With Metastatic Breast Cancer You Did Something Wrong Or Didnt Get The Right Treatment The First Time
When some people hear stage IV breast cancer, they assume something must have been missed along the way to let the cancer get that far. There is a misconception that breast cancer always develops in orderly steps from stages I to II, III, and then IV and that theres plenty of time to catch it early. People with MBC can face misguided assumptions that they must have skipped mammograms or self-exams, or they didnt control risk factors such as not exercising enough, watching their weight, or eating healthy. But a person can do everything right and still get MBC. Although regular screenings increase the odds of diagnosing breast cancer at an earlier stage, they cant guarantee it.
Another major misconception: If youre diagnosed with metastatic cancer after being treated for an early-stage breast cancer, you must have chosen the wrong treatment regimen or it wasnt aggressive enough. But between 20% and 30% of people with an earlier-stage breast cancer will eventually go on to develop MBC and theres often no good explanation as to why. And it can happen to anyone. Treatments can reduce the risk of recurrence, but they cant eliminate it.
As Illimae of Houston notes: that a stage IV diagnosis equals negligence on the part of the patient. In my case, it had spread before I ever felt a lump. I felt it Saturday and saw my doc on Monday, I ignored nothing, sometimes it just happens that fast.
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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.
Dont Ignore The Health Of The Rest Of Your Body
Lots of times, we tend to only focus on our cancer symptoms or think that every symptom is cancer-related. However, Ive found that its important to still maintain a relationship with my primary care provider. My primary care provider helps keep me up to date on vaccinations and monitors my preventive screenings, such as colonoscopies and Pap tests. They also evaluate me for conditions such as arthritis, blood pressure, and diabetes. In my case, the medications I take for cancer have now, after long-term treatment, increased my risk of high blood pressure. Because of that, I now must take a low-dose blood pressure medication, which will help prevent me from having a blood clot, heart attack, or stroke.
Protect the health of the rest of your body. Always get your preventive health screenings and manage current and future health conditions.
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How Lucky Am I
Being diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2009, I survived 11 months of surgery and treatment and returned to work a very grateful woman. Since then I have semi-retired and was again diagnosed, this time with metastatic breast cancer in January 2016.
My struggle and fight with cancer continues with the love and support of my loving family. Many a scan, nuclear imaging, infusions and countless blood tests Im back on the medical bandwagon.
In 2013, I was fortunate to become a grandmother of a beautiful granddaughter, Aleigha . This little treasure in my life has made me appreciate being alive, and being able to see her grow up is very special to me. My wish is for her to have good, joyful memories of her grandmother for the rest of her life.
I wrote the following poem in my journal when I was first diagnosed and it is just as relevant now.
My senses to life revisited what is important to me
I stop to smell my favourite flowers,I take a break and listen to the music that I enjoy,I treasure the scenic beauty of the Blue Mountains where you live,I always enjoy the taste of the food and wine that lifts your spirits when Im down,I look after my sense of mind, body and soul,I use humour to get me through my toughest moments,I talk, listen and laugh with my family more often, andMost of all, I touch, kiss, hold and hug the ones I love.I appreciate being alive.
The upside downside of dealing with metastatic breast cancer | Margaret, NSW
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.
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Survival Rate With Metastatic Breast Cancer
Many people wonder about the life expectancy for stage 4 breast cancer . It’s important to note that everyone is different and survival rates vary widely. There are some people who survive many years and even decades with stage 4 disease. At the same time, it’s important to understand that stage 4 breast cancer isn’t curable.
It can be helpful to look at current statistics and consider the many variables that affect life expectancy. While it’s important not to raise false hope, it may help to know the reality that there are some long-term survivors.
Some people want to know the statistics, but many don’t. If you’re living with stage 4 breast cancer, there is absolutely no requirement that you know the prognosis. The information provided here is only for those who truly wish to know what the current research iseven this research has many limitations.
Treatment For Physical Symptoms
Several medications can help relieve pain. The American Cancer Society urge that a person should not have to endure pain in the final months and days of life.
Many people find relief with opioid medications, but these can cause side effects such as fatigue and constipation. A person may use opioids in combination with other pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Other drugs, such as antidepressants and antiseizure medications, can also treat certain types of pain.
Doctors can also prescribe medications for nausea and vomiting. Some drugs for treating nausea can make a person drowsy. However, these drugs may help people eat and drink more or simply make it easier for them to function and interact with other people.
Meeting The Challenges Of Metastatic Cancer
To understand your situation, you may want to get a second opinion. Many people find that it helps to get an opinion from another oncologist, and many doctors encourage it.
Your doctor can help you cope with cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. For example, if you have pain, your treatment might include surgery to remove a tumor in a painful area. Your doctor might also prescribe pain medication or anti-nausea medication.
How Breast Cancer Spreads
Breast cancer can spread through the lymphatic system, the bloodstream, or by local invasionfor instance, when cancer cells actually invade nearby tissues, such as the chest wall or ribs.
When breast cancers spread and enter the lymphatic system, they usually first arrive at nearby lymph nodes and may still be early-stage.
Metastatic breast cancer is the same thing as stage 4 breast cancer and is considered the most advanced stage. It refers to breast cancers that have spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other regions of the body, which are called distant metastases.
While treatment options for metastatic breast cancer are similar no matter where cancer has spread, some treatments are used for specific sites of metastasis as well .
Encouraging Statistics On Prognosis Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
In recent years, there have been some encouraging new statistics on the prognosis of metastatic breast cancer, these include:
- The statistics on survival rates show that women with breast cancer live longer today than ever before.
- In the past decade, the survival rate has substantially increased, due to an improvement in early diagnosis and screening, as well as improved targeted treatment.
- Survival rates are higher for women in higher economic groups
- The stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis plays an impactful role in prognosis, the highest survival rate begins for those who are five years post-treatment.
Recognize Your Feelings And Concerns
Talking about fears and concerns is important, even when treatment is working well. Tell your health care team about emotional symptoms. People may live for years with metastatic cancer. Your doctor can help you have the best quality of life possible during this time. Hospitals and medical centers have many resources for you and your family.
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Beating The Odds: Long
Doctors often give metastatic cancer patients an estimated survival time based on statistical averages, but some people have far outlived those predictions. How did they do it?
Join us as we bring together an oncology expert and a group of longtime metastatic cancer survivors to discuss how they beat the odds. From lifestyle choices and medical treatments to just plain luck, our guests share tips and strategies they feel contributed to their longevity. Youll also hear an experts recommendations for improving your life as a survivor.
As always, our guests answer questions from the audience.
Welcome to this HealthTalk webcast. Before we begin, we remind you that the opinions expressed on this webcast are solely the views of our guests. They are not necessarily the views of HealthTalk, our sponsors or any outside organization. And, as always, please consult your own physician for the medical advice most appropriate for you.
Now heres your host.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer, you are probably all too familiar with those dreaded four words The cancer has spread. But as advances in cancer treatment continue, people with metastatic cancer are living for longer periods of time. Hello and welcome to this HealthTalk webcast, Beating the Odds: Long-Term Survival with Metastatic Cancer. Im your host and cancer survivor, Kelly Guenther.
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Treatment Starts With Hope
Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., medical oncologist and scientific director of the Cancer Centers breast oncology program, approaches each patients cancer individually and does not think predictions make sense until treatment begins.
Joses treatment plan included four rounds of chemotherapy, which reduced her 5-centimeter tumor to undetectable.
I wanted to immediately convey to Heather that wed have a long road together, including the medical center helping her family get through this challenge. Thats why I wanted to know about her husband and family members, says Merajver. In addition to giving her confidence that weve seen her disease before, a first step is to begin to recruit the social support the patient needs.
Because Joses cancer had spread, she knew not to expect to be cured. She had a double mastectomy, received radiation therapy and joined a clinical trial to receive two stem cell transplants. There have been several recurrences over the years, but each has been managed as treatment progresses for metastatic breast cancer.
The goal for me is to hear that my scans are stable. Stable means good, Jose says.
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