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, M.D., 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, Aren’t you on chemo? And I worked with this woman for a number of years, she was not a stranger!
Treatment Of Stage 4 Liver Cancer
Treatment of the Liver Cancer Stage 4 depends upon the age, health and the complexities of the patient. Surgery is the most effective treatment for Stage 4 Liver Cancer. However, considering the size, and the position of the tumour, operation is not always possible. However, Radiofrequency Ablation is an option for treatment. The hepatic artery is blocked in the procedure so that cancerous cell cannot take nutrition from it due to blockage. After that chemotherapy or drugs are used on the blockage. However, the success of the treatment at this stage is very less. The Liver Transplantation is another option for the Stage 4; however, the success rate is very less again. If the tumour is small enough and has not spread outside the liver then, the liver transplantation can be considered very helpful treatment. Treatment from early stages may show betterment in the condition.
From Cured To Stage 4
Others, like Teri Pollastro, a 54-year-old stage 4 patient from Seattle, respond surprisingly well.
Diagnosed with early stage ductal carcinoma in situ in 1999, Pollastro underwent a mastectomy but did not receive chemotherapy, radiation or tamoxifen, since her cancer was ER negative.
âThey used the C-word with me, they told me I was cured,â she said. âEvery time I went back to my oncologist, he would roll his eyes at me when I had questions.â
In 2003, Pollastro switched to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where she saw Dr. Julie Gralow, a breast cancer oncologist and clinical researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Gralow discovered Pollastroâs cancer had metastasized to her liver.
âMy husband and I were in shock,â said Pollastro of her mets diagnosis. âYou donât go from being cured to stage 4.â
Pollastro went on Herceptin, a type of immunotherapy for women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, and did six months of chemotherapy.
âI felt better right away with the treatment,â she said. âBut the problem is, it stopped . Thatâs what you can expect with mets. And thereâs always some residual cancer. And that starts percolating.â
And along with mets, she also had to deal with many misconceptions regarding her disease.
The Mercer Island, Washington, mother of two, who often counsels newly diagnosed patients, sometimes even found it difficult to relate to early stage breast cancer survivors.
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Palliative Care Is Looking Out For Me
I have been living with cancer for 10 years. I have bone and brain metastases, which are stable.
This year has been my biggest challenge, with fractures occurring in my femurs due to a side effect of a bone density drug. Consequently, I now have rods in both femurs and endured two major setbacks due to refracturing around the rods. I have been in a world of pain, and while I was in care in hospital, I was referred to my local palliative care organisation.
Even though I havent had another acute incident, I know that my body is starting to break down and Im comforted and relieved that palliative care is looking out for me to help me manage pain and symptoms so I can continue to live life as well as possible.
This service is free and involves a multidisciplinary team. Thus far I have met a nurse, social worker and occupational therapist. I havent needed them yet, but its so good to have them if my illness progresses.
I see them as an extension of my medical team at home. They have brought up issues in relation to developing a health plan and end of life plan for me and my family. It was done in a very compassionate way and has seeded the thought of organising the next phase in my journey to reduce the trauma for my family and myself.
What To Watch Out For
Larry: Yeah, but you do have to watch your potassium levels, right?
Yes, you do have to watch potassium levels. And you have to know the symptoms if you are getting too much potassium. But I never found that problematic. But, being a retired nurse, I know certain drugs cause people to have too much potassium in the body, so especially if you are taking other medications it would be a good idea to also have blood work done to ensure that youre not, like having too much potassium build up, or also probably nutritional work done so that you know you arent losing too much in the way of the vitamins or minerals and you know. Because one of the biggest cancer related to cancer killers is cachexia. Is basically starving to death.
Larry: Right. Youre absolutely right there. And theres a lot of these, I call them fad diets, that are promoted for people with cancer can actually put people into a cachexic state. Because theyre not paying attention to the reason that you do fall into that cachexic state. So it can be dangerous by following some of those diets that claim to be good for people that have cancer and actually arent.
Yeah. No I agree. Ive seen many ads for If you just do apple cider vinegar for a week it will cure all your cancer!
No, thats not good. Thats not healthy.
Larry: What do you think about the 24 hour cancer cure?
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Is It Possible To Survive Stage 4 Breast Cancer
While there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, it is possible to control it with treatment for a number of years. The cancer can also go into remission. There are different types of remission:
- Complete remission : when there are no cancer signs and symptoms that can be detected by tests or scans.
- Partial remission : when the cancer has partly responded to treatment. It is still present but it has gotten smaller.
It is currently not possible to predict how long remission will last. However, the repeated cycle of growing, shrinking and stabilising can mean survival for many years. New treatments also continue to be developed. Treatment can help to control the cancer, help relieve symptoms and help you live longer.
It is not always easy, but many people find that with time, they are able to adjust to their diagnosis. Despite the many challenges that metastatic breast cancer brings, people can continue to live full, meaningful lives.
What Is Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer is not a specific type of breast cancer. Its the most advanced stage of breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body .
Although metastatic breast cancer has spread to another part of the body, its still breast cancer and treated as breast cancer.
For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is still breast cancer . So, its treated with breast cancer drugs, rather than treatments for a cancer that began in the bones.
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Can Stage 4 Breast Cancer Go Into Remission
Stage 4 breast cancer can go into remission, meaning that it isnt detected in imaging or other tests. Pathological complete remission indicates a lack of cancer cells in tissues removed after surgery or biopsy.
But its rare to take tissue samples while treating stage 4 breast cancer. This could mean that although treatment has been effective, it hasnt completely destroyed the cancer.
Advances in stage 4 breast cancer treatments are helping to increase the length of remission.
I Have To Prioritize And Try Not To Sweat The Small Stuff
For Sendelbach, each week begins with a list of her priorities. Obviously, getting to my doctors appointments is very important, she says. But if the clothes arent folded, is that a dire situation? Absolutely not!
Sendelbach has learned to make compromises: If her husband and son have to pick up their clean clothes from the couch, she can live with that.
I have learned, she says, to look at every situation and ask if this is going to truly make a difference in my day or my familys day for better or worse. If the answer is no, then that task might be left undone.
It wasnt always this way for Sendelbach, though. When she was first diagnosed with cancer, her son was just a year old and she had been married for only two and a half years. You know how it is when you first have a baby if everything isnt perfect, then the world is falling apart! she laughs. Now, to us we ate, were all still alive, the house is acceptable if were good, its all okay.
Stage 4 Hepatic Carcinoma Liver Cancer Survivor
My name is Cheryl Matarazzo. I am 58 years old and I live in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 hepatic carcinoma .
I woke up one morning with a sizable lump on the back of my head, thinking it was either a spider bite or possibly a hair follicle. I paid a visit to our family physician and was told it was neither and it would require a scan. The X-ray facility was closed for the day so I set it up for the following morning.
The next morning, I had a strange pain in my eye and my equilibrium was off. I contacted my doctor, who told me to go straight to emergency room in New Jersey, close to my home.;Scans were done and I was visited by a neurologist who explained that I would not be going home as I had a suspicious lesion on the back of my head that would require a biopsy.
He asked me if he was able to remove the entire thing, would I be ok with that?
Sure I would, I told him. Why would I want to come back again?
Our family physician sent me to an oncologist in New Jersey.
Please understand that at this point I still had no clue what was wrong with me. The word oncologist didn’t even ring a bell.;I was examined; the oncologist went over the reports and said my case was quite unusual. He recommended I go to a New York City facility, preferably Mount Sinai, which deals with rare cases and may be able to help me.
I asked him if he could tell me what I had.
Stage 4 Breast Cancer: Prognoses And Solutions
Breast cancer cases have doubled in the last 20 years. Women die more often from this disease than all other cancers. Cancers develop inside our bodies, from our own cells that have mutated for some reason. Scientists all over the world have been fighting over the cause of cancer for decades and have come to the conclusion that the diseases destructive mechanisms are triggered by not one but many factors.
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Survival Rate Of Stage 4 Liver Cancer
Survival Rate of any cancer is the most important part. The Stage 4 Liver Cancer is not different as well. The survival rate for the Stage 4 is very less, and it is expected that only 4% people may survive. However, if proper attention is given and diagnosis of the Liver Cancer is detected at the earlier stages of the cancer then the survival rate of the patient increases a lot.
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:
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Stage 4 Stomach Cancer
Hi, I was just recently diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. It was a recurrence. I had gone 4 yrs. and thought I had beat it. I was happy to read that you are succeeding, but it made sad to read that you deserved the cancer. We all make mistakes, but no one deserves this. Good luck. I will try to be encouraged.
Ivelisse Healed Her Stage 4 Colon Cancer With Mistletoes And Plants
Ivelisse is a wife and mother of four kids. She is also a stage IV colon cancer survivor. Her father died of colon cancer when he was in his late thirties.
She knew that her family history put her at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. At a young age, she got regular colonoscopies, ate organic and exercised. Despite this, she developed colon cancer when she was 37.
Ivelisse healed her colon cancer with mistletoe injections
In August of 2008, she felt tired all the time and had to take daily three hour naps in the middle of the day. And when she woke up she still felt exhausted. Ivelisse was a busy mom, owned her own business and homeschooled her kids.
Her husband then convinced her to see the doctor. In the hospital, they discovered that she had colon cancer. She had the same disease as her father and at the same age.Her tumor was five centimeters.
Doctors believed that it was a stage 3 cancer and that it hadn’t spread to any of her vital organs. Ivelisse asked her oncologists what her survival rate was at stage 3 with chemo.
They said she had a 67% chance of survival. She then asked them about the survival rate if she refused chemo. The answer was 57%.
This answer surprised her. What was the use of poisoning your body if you only had a mere 10% higher chance of survival?
Meanwhile, the oncologists pushed her to do chemotherapy.
But then Ivelisse got the worst kind of news.
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Coping With Advanced Breast Cancer
Being told that you have advanced or metastatic breast cancer may be very confronting or overwhelming. Some women also find the news that their cancer has spread or come back is more devastating than their original diagnosis.
There are many resources available online to help you further understand the meaning of your diagnosis and how to manage the emotional, physical and practical issues arising from metastatic breast cancer. Below are some links where these resources can be accessed:
Connecting and speaking with others who have gone through a similar experience can also be helpful. Cancer Council runs support groups all across Australia which can provide support and information for people with cancer and their families. Groups in each state can be accessed here:
Although support groups can provide a safe place for people to express their feelings amongst others who share a similar experience, some people are more comfortable talking one-on-one, such as with a counsellor, therapist or trained volunteer . Your GP can also refer you to a psychologist, social worker or other trained therapist. Every person is different and it is important to find a healthy support system that works for you.