Myth #: The Mental And Emotional Experience Of People With Mbc Is The Same As That Of Earlier
People with MBC report hearing comments such as, At least you have a good type of cancer, Arent you glad so much research on breast cancer has been done?, Fortunately you have so many options. These might comfort people with early-stage breast cancer, who can look forward to one day finishing treatment and moving on but people with MBC dont have that luxury. They know they will be in treatment for the rest of their lives. They also know that their life is likely to be shorter than theyd planned.
Mentally and emotionally, people with MBC have a completely different experience. For them, the whole ringing the bell idea does not work, says Dr. Gupta. I have patients who are coming in once a week and have to plan their lives around their treatment. The whole pink brigade idea is very upsetting to them.
Fortunately, more and more people with MBC are speaking up and calling attention to how their experience differs from that of people with earlier-stage breast cancer. People with MBC live with cancer always in the background of their lives, but with new and emerging therapies, many are living longer and maintaining their quality of life.
Clearly, the experience of metastatic breast cancer is quite different from early-stage breast cancer. But there are so many patients who understand just what youre going through. Read more about Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer and join our discussion forum for people with stage IV/metastatic disease.
Progression Of Early Stage Breast Cancer
Left untreated, early stage breast cancer can continue to grow and eventually spread to other areas of the body. Early detection and treatment can help prevent the cancer from progressing, and, in many cases, cure or get rid of it entirely.
Once breast cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, doctors can no longer cure it. Instead, treatment focuses on extending a personâs life, reducing symptoms, and improving quality of life.
What Is Male Breast Cancer
Breast cancer in men is very rare, with less than 1 percent of all breast cancers found in men. The risk increases for older men and those with high estrogen levels, low male-hormone levels or a family history of breast cancer. Increased risk is also associated with those who have been exposed to radiation, heavy drinkers, and those with liver disease or who are obese. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and drugs that target genetic changes in cells that cause cancer.
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Can You Have Stage 4 Breast Cancer And Not Know It
They can detect early signs of cancerous changes. Although not all stage 4 cancer will include large tumors, many women will be able to see or feel a lump in their breast. It may exist under the armpit or somewhere else nearby. Women may also feel a general swelling around the breast or armpit areas.
Myth #: Metastatic Breast Cancer Requires More Aggressive Treatment Than Earlier
Related to myth #3 is the notion that because MBC is advanced cancer, doctors have to pull out all the stops to fight it. But thats actually not the case, says Breastcancer.org professional advisory board member Sameer Gupta, MD, a medical oncologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. The goal is control rather than cure. Think of it as a marathon vs. a 50-yard dash.
Doctors treat earlier-stage breast cancer more aggressively because the goal is to cure it: destroy all of the cancer cells and leave none behind, reducing the risk of recurrence as much as possible. With MBC, the goal is control so that patients can live well for as long as possible. And chemotherapy isnt necessarily the mainstay of treatment.
DivineMrsM of Ohio shares her experience: eople in general think we should be hooked up to a chemo IV and looking sickly. When I told one woman I took a daily anti-estrogen pill to combat MBC, she looked at me with pity and sadness like I had no clue what I was talking about. Or that I was making up that I had advanced breast cancer, perhaps as a sympathy ploy or for attention. She even asked, Arent you on chemo? And I worked with this woman for a number of years, she was not a stranger!
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Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
byOctober 15, 2022, 7:23 am545 Views
The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary depending on the organ involved. Metastasis is the term used to describe the process by which cancer cells leave the main breast tumor and travel to other parts of the body.
These cancer cells migrate via the circulation or lymphatic system .
Metastatic breast cancer patients can also have symptoms experienced by patients in the early stages of breast cancer, however, these symptoms are much more severe.
Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Bones
You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread to the bones:
- an ache or pain in the affected bone
- breaks in the bones because they are weaker
- breathlessness, looking pale, bruising and bleeding due to low levels of blood cells – blood cells are made in the bone marrow and can be crowded out by the cancer cells
Sometimes when bones are damaged by advanced cancer, the bones release calcium into the blood. This is called hypercalcaemia and can cause various symptoms such as:
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Treatment For Brain Metastasis
Metastatic breast cancer in any part of the body is usually treated with systemic medicines, which treat cancer throughout the entire body. For brain metastasis, local treatments that specifically target the brain, such as surgery or radiation, are sometimes recommended.
Still, treating brain metastases can be challenging because of the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is network of blood vessels and tissue that helps keep harmful substances from reaching the brain. The blood-brain barrier lets some things, such as water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and general anesthetics, pass into the brain. But it also keeps out bacteria and other substances, including many medicines used to treat cancer.
While some chemotherapy medicines can help treat brain metastases, many chemotherapy medicines can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. Doctors often combine chemotherapy with targeted therapies, which are medicines that target specific characteristics of cancer cells.
Targeted therapies are treatments that target specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as a protein that allows the cancer cells to grow in a rapid or abnormal way. Targeted therapies are generally less likely than chemotherapy to harm normal, healthy cells. Some targeted therapies are antibodies that work like the antibodies made naturally by our immune systems. Because of this, they are sometimes called immune-targeted therapies.
The goals of local treatment depend on your specific situation:
Brain Metastasis Symptoms And Diagnosis
About 10% to 15% of people with stage IV breast cancer have brain metastases. For most people with metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the brain, the breast cancer has already traveled to another part of the body, such as the bones, lungs, or liver. But for about 17% of people with brain metastasis, the breast cancer has only spread to the brain.
The risk of brain metastasis is usually highest for people with more aggressive subtypes of breast cancer, such as HER2-positive or triple-negative breast cancer.
Symptoms of breast cancer that has spread to the brain can include:
stroke , which means the blood supply to the brain is cut off symptoms can include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, headache, trouble speaking, vision changes, dizziness, or loss of balance
Using an MRI scan, often with contrast solution, a doctor can confirm that breast cancer has spread to the brain. Contrast solution is dye that is injected into your arm through an intravenous line. The dye travels to the brain and helps cancerous tissue show up more clearly on the images.
In rare cases, doctors order a biopsy to confirm brain metastasis. To get a tissue sample, a surgeon drills a small hole through the skull. Using MRI or CT scans, a surgeon can guide a narrow, hollow needle into the brain lesion and remove a sample. The surgeon then sends the sample to a pathologist for examination.
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Integrative Therapies For Metastatic Breast Cancer
You may find it beneficial to add integrative therapies to your treatment plan. There are many evidence-informed integrative modalities to boost the mind and body. Practices like gentle yoga, meditation, massage and music therapy may feel enjoyable and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
To help our patients maintain quality of life after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, our team of breast cancer experts may offer supportive care services to help manage side effects of the disease and its treatments. These may include:
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How Do Clinical Trials Fit Into The Equation
“I think clinical trials in general are very important, because almost every drug we have in practice right now, we learned about through a clinical trial,” Henry says.
The Rogel Cancer Center always tries to have clinical trials available for all patients, no matter the stage.
“Ask your oncologist about the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, even if it hasn’t been mentioned to you,” Henry says. “It’s one way to get access to new exciting drugs, which may be beneficial.”
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Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer
It can be upsetting for you, your family, and other loved ones to learn that breast cancer has spread to other areas of the body. But there are ways to manage your feelings, get support, figure out how to talk about the diagnosis with family and friends, and work after being diagnosed.
Its not always easy to balance your sexual needs with the physical and emotional challenges of a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. You can manage the sexual issues that can often come up with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis.
Risks Of Metastasis In The Bones
Over half of stage 4 breast cancer patients experience bone metastasis, according to breastcancer.org. Usually the first place breast cancer spreads, bones most commonly affected include the ribs, spine, pelvis, and arm and leg bones. If you suspect cancer has spread to a bone, its important to get it checked out quickly, as you may be able to prevent fractures with prompt treatment.
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What Can I Expect While Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer
Your care team will monitor you every few months to check if the cancer is responding to treatment, and also to see if you are having any side effects. The process of restaging the cancer includes:
- History/physical exam.
- Imaging tests, including CTs and bone scan or PET scan.
Before your scans or tests, its normal to feel anxiety. It may help to bring a friend or family member to the appointment with you.
Finding Support When Living With Breast Cancer
Learning you have breast cancer can be overwhelming, but youre not alone. You might find it helpful to connect with others who have been through the same thing or are going through it right now.
Your oncologist or treatment center can probably point you toward local resources. There are many types of support groups, so it may take a little time to find one thats a good fit. Here are a few organizations to get you started on your search.
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New Jerseys Largest Network Of Cancer Specialists
We offer access to New Jerseys largest network of breast cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized hematologists/oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses, and oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer specialty care with expertise in blood cancers.
Treatment For Physical Symptoms
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.
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What If A Patient Sees The Term Metastatic On An Online Pathology Report Before Seeing The Oncologist Does That Mean They Have Stage 4
“Because we have electronic medical records now, and everyone has fairly early access to documents like pathology reports, it can cause a lot of anxiety and be very confusing to a patient,” Henry says. “Sometimes a pathology report may say ‘metastatic to lymph node.’ But that may not mean it is stage 4.” It may simply mean the cancer has spread to an adjacent lymph node. Henry emphasizes that patients should talk to their doctor to understand their diagnosis.
How To Perform A Breast Self
With fat necrosis, the mass cant be distinguished from a cancerous lump without a biopsy.
Even though the majority of breast lumps are caused by less severe conditions, new, painless lumps are still the most common symptom of breast cancer.
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What Is Advanced Cancer
Advanced cancer is most often used to describe cancers that cannot be cured. This means cancers that wont totally go away and stay away completely with treatment. However, some types of advanced cancer can be controlled over a long period of time and are thought of as an ongoing illness.
Even if advanced cancer cant be cured, treatment can sometimes:
- Shrink the cancer
- Help relieve symptoms
- Help you live longer
For some people, the cancer may already be advanced when they first learn they have the disease. For others, the cancer may not become advanced until years after it was first diagnosed.
Advanced cancers can be locally advanced or metastatic.
Locally advanced means that cancer has grown outside the body part it started in but has not yet spread to other parts of the body. For example, some cancers that start in the brain may be considered advanced because of their large size or closeness to important organs or blood vessels. This can make them life-threatening even though they havent spread to other parts of the body. But other locally advanced cancers, such as some prostate cancers, may be cured.
Metastatic cancers have spread from where they started to other parts of the body. Cancers that have spread are often thought of as advanced when they cant be cured or controlled with treatment. Not all metastatic cancers are advanced cancers. Some cancers, such as testicular cancer, can spread to other parts of the body and still be very curable.
Treatment For Metastatic Breast Cancer
There are a number of different approaches to treating metastatic breast cancer. Every cancer is unique and treatment can be tailored to your specific circumstances.
Doctors usually treat metastatic breast cancer in any part of the body with systemic medications, which treat cancer throughout the entire body. Chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy are all systemic medications. Local treatments that target a specific part of the body, such as surgery or radiation, are sometimes recommended.
Most treatment decisions depend on where in the body the cancer has spread, the cancers characteristics , and any cancer treatments youve had in the past.
If youre being treated for metastatic breast cancer, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether participating in a clinical trial makes sense for you. Its important to know that researchers conducting clinical trials carefully consider your specific situation before approving you as a study participant. By participating in a clinical trial, you can help researchers find better breast cancer treatments that may help extend lives in the future. But you also may benefit from the treatment the researchers are studying.
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Outlook Once Cancer Has Spread To The Bones
The research on cancer metastasis is rapidly growing. As researchers better understand the mechanisms of bone metastasis, new drugs and other treatments are being developed. These target particular processes in cells involved in how the cancer cells invade and grow in bones.
The use of nanoparticles to deliver drugs is very encouraging. These tiny particles are able to deliver drugs to the bone with minimal toxicity to the person with cancer.
Rapidly treating bone metastasis can lead to a