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How Deadly Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Many Women Live For Decades With Metastatic Breast Cancer

A Michigan resident with stage four breast cancer shares her story

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.

Re: Are All Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis Cases Terminal

Hi CJS, Have sent you a reply on my thread as you messaged me on there. Just want to reiterate how sorry I am that you are going through this. My heart goes out to you and I totally relate to the fact that you are grieving for your Dad and seeing elements of your Mum’s health that remind you of your Dad. As you know I lost my Dad then my Mum 5 months later and I felt exactly the same. My Mum didn’t know her proper diagnosis, she didn’t want to and it was so hard to try and keep it from her and act like everything was OK. Don’t be hard on yourself, you don’t have to be strong all the time, allow yourself to cry, shout, be angry whatever you feel let it out, it’s not good to keep it in. Take care and keep posting when you need to, it helps. Hope x

Hello CJS,

I am one of the enquiry nurses and Jenn our moderator asked us if we could help. I am sorry to hear about your mum and can understand this is a difficult time for you both.

In quite a few cancers, stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body to form secondary cancers . As a general rule cancers that have spread are difficult to treat and are unlikely to be cured in the long term, although treatment can help to shrink or control them. Occasionally a cancer that has spread can be cured, but this would depend on the circumstances. An example might be if there was a single secondary cancer that could be removed or destroyed and if no other secondary cancers ever develop in the future.

Best wishes,

What Is Triple Negative Breast Cancer

A diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer means that the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growthestrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene are not present in the cancer tumor. This means that the breast cancer cells have tested negative for hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 , estrogen receptors , and progesterone receptors .

Since the tumor cells lack the necessary receptors, common treatments like hormone therapy and drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 are ineffective. Using chemotherapy to treat triple negative breast cancer is still an effective option. In fact, triple negative breast cancer may respond even better to chemotherapy in the earlier stages than many other forms of cancer.

Recommended Reading: What To Expect During Chemo For Breast Cancer

When Metastatic Cancer Can No Longer Be Controlled

If you have been told your cancer can no longer be controlled, you and your loved ones may want to discuss end-of-life care. Whether or not you choose to continue treatment to shrink the cancer or control its growth, you can always receive palliative care to control the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. Information on coping with and planning for end-of-life care is available in the Advanced Cancer section of this site.

Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Curable

Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Stages, and Treatment ...

Theres currently no cure for stage 4 breast cancer, but with treatments it can be kept under control, often for years at a time.

People with metastatic breast cancer need to receive treatments for the rest of their lives. If a certain treatment stops being effective, another treatment regimen may be tried.

Also Check: Estrogen And Progesterone Positive Breast Cancer Prognosis

Stages Of Breast Cancer

The stage of breast cancer is based on the size and location of the tumor, as well as whether the cancer has spread beyond the part of the breast in which it originated. To determine the stage of breast cancer, healthcare professionals use a scale of stage 0 to stage 4.

Stage 0 breast cancers are isolated in one part of the breast, such as a duct or lobule, and show no sign of spreading into other tissue.

Stage 1 is typically localized, although further local growth or spread may cause the cancer to move into stage 2.

In stage 3, the cancer may be larger and has affected the lymph system. Stage 4 cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes, and into other organs and tissues of the body.

In addition to stages, breast cancers are given grades based on the size, shape, and activity of the cells in the tumor. A higher-grade cancer means a greater percentage of cells look and act abnormal, or they no longer resemble normal, healthy cells.

On a scale of 1 to 3, with 3 being the most serious, TNBC is often labeled grade 3.

American Cancer Society , the symptoms of TNBC can be the same as those for other types of breast cancer. ACS recommends regular screenings such as mammograms to detect breast cancer before symptoms appear, the time when treatment is most effective.

Other signs of breast cancer include:

Any of these signs can be caused by other conditions. But it is always good to have them checked out by your healthcare professional.

Additional Markers For Breast Cancer Staging

Additional markers specific to breast cancer will further define your stage, which may be helpful in choosing targeted treatments to fight the cancer.

  • ER: The cancer has an estrogen receptor. Estrogen is a hormone, and some cancers have receptors that respond to estrogen.
  • PR: The cancer has a progesterone receptor. Progesterone is also a hormone.
  • HER2: The cancer makes the protein HER2 .
  • G: Grade of cancer refers to how different the cells look from normal. Grade 1 indicates that the cells look fairly normal, while grade 2 cells are growing a little faster, and grade 3 cells look markedly different than normal breast tissue.

These markers, along with the TNM measurements, define your stage.

A cancer recurrence refers to cancer that returns in the same breast, and it requires new staging. This new stage is marked by an R at the end to indicate restaging. If it develops in the other breast, its considered a new cancer.

Also Check: Stage 3 Lymph Nodes Cancer

Breast Cancer Statistics In Young Adults

Although breast cancer in young adults is rare, more than 250,000 living in the United States today were diagnosed under age 40. In young adults, breast cancer tends to be diagnosed in its later stages. It also tends to be more aggressive. Young adults have a higher mortality rate. As well as a higher risk of metastatic recurrence .

How Long Can You Live With Stage 4 Breast Cancer

I Have A Rare Breast Cancer

Many patients and caregivers wonder, is stage 4 breast cancer curable, or is stage 4 breast cancer always terminal? This can depend on many factors such as the subtype of disease and the extent of metastasis. Despite stage 4 cancer being the least likely to be cured or go in remission, many patients live for several years after a diagnosis of metastatic cancer. In rare cases, some patients will end up beating metastatic breast cancer. However, once breast cancer is in stage 4, it has spread to other tissues and organs around the body, which can make it more difficult to treat.

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What Is Triple

If youve been diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the first things your healthcare team will do is determine whether the cancer cells are hormone receptive. Knowing if your cancer is sensitive to certain hormones will help direct your treatment, and it can offer insight about your outlook.

Some cancer cells have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone, as well as an overexpression of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 gene. If HER2 genes are overexpressed, the cells make too much of the protein HER2.

If your cells have hormone receptors, the hormones can fuel the growth of your cancer cells. Not all breast cancer cells have these receptors, and not all cancers overexpress the HER2 gene.

If your cancer isnt sensitive to these hormones and doesnt have an increased amount of HER2, its called triple-negative breast cancer . TNBC represents

What Is A 5

A relative survival rate compares women with the same type and stage of breast cancer to women in the overall population.For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of breast cancer is 90%, it means that women who have that cancer are, on average, about 90% as likely as women who dont have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

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Ovarian Cancer: More Deadly Than Breast Cancer

ByKimberly Jean | Submitted On December 01, 2010

A few years ago I was asked if I knew what the most deadly gynecologic cancer was and I answered “Well, breast cancer of course.” Oh, how I was wrong. The American Cancer Society estimates that the average five year survival rate of breast cancer at any stage to actually be 89 percent. While no cancer is good that’s a pretty good rate. The correct answer to the question is ovarian cancer, and its five year survival rate is only 46 percent. We need to find out why this cancer is so deadly.

They call it ovarian cancer because the tumor first starts at the ovaries and is made up of over productive ovarian cells. The ovaries are part of the women’s reproductive system and are attached to the uterus by the fallopian tubes. When a malignant tumor starts to grow these areas can also be affected because of their close proximity to the ovaries. When this tumor starts to shed cancer cells the cells typically go to the abdomen first because it’s closest to where the reproductive system is located. Then as I said before the cancerous cells can start to affect your lymph nodes and enter your blood stream to travel to different organs.

Take Action To Change Young Adult Breast Cancer Statistics

Fundraiser by Taylor Olsson : Support Debbie Through ...

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.

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What Is Stage 1c Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries, the reproductive glands in women that produce eggs, the American Cancer Society explains.

Ovarian cancer is often deadly. In 2022, it’s estimated that about 19,880 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 12,810 women will die of the disease, per the ACS. Ovarian cancer is the is the fifth most deadly cancer in women, and causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

The reason for this is that ovarian cancer is usually detected at more advanced stages, Jack Jacoub, MD, medical oncologist and medical director of MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Health.

While it’s common for cancer to be given stages one through four, ovarian cancer is slightly different, according to Dr. Jacoub.

“There are a lot of nuances to the staging of ovarian cancer, and that includes staging A, B, and C, based on the ovaries involved,” says Dr. Jacoub.

Stage 1A means that only one ovary is involved and the cancer is inside that ovary or fallopian tube, the ACS explains. Stage 1B involves both ovaries or fallopian tubes but the cancer is not on the outer surfaces. Stage 1C means that the cancer is in one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes, cancer is on the outer surface of those areas, and cancer cells were found in the fluid in the abdomen and pelvis.

RELATED: How to Detect Ovarian Cancer: What Doctors Want You to Know About the Diagnosis Process

What Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Stage 4 breast cancer is also called metastatic breast cancer or advanced breast cancer. In this stage, cancer that developed in your breast has spread to other areas of your body.

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.

Breast Cancer Healthline is a free app for people who have faced a breast cancer diagnosis. The app is available on the App Store and . Download here.

Also Check: Is Stage 3a Breast Cancer Curable

Dear World You’re Not Going To Have The Year You Thought You’d Have

Her gloom began to lift when she began doing her own research. Loniewska is a Ph.D. toxicologist.She put that expertise to work, and made a welcome discovery.

“I realized that a lot of MBC patients were doing well and the treatments work for a while. And then you switched treatments. You know, there’s always these hopeful stories of people, living five years, 10 years, 15 years.”

Or even more. We all hope to be one of those. But since the 5-year survival rate is just 28% for women and 22% for men, we know many of us won’t be.

There’s a saying in the MBC community: It’s the worst diagnosis, but you meet the best people. I’ve met some good ones. And since a 2020 National Cancer Institute study estimates that 168,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer, I don’t think I’ll be running out of new friends any time soon.

Correction Dec. 12, 2021

In a previous version of this story, the name of Margaret Loniewska’s daughter was misspelled as Mariana. Her name is Marianna.

What Is Stage 1 Breast Cancer

Former Detroit City Council president Saunteel Jenkins shares breast cancer story

This breast cancer is the earliest stage of invasive breast cancer. In stage 1, the tumor measures up to 2 cm and no lymph nodes are involved. At this stage, the cancer cells have spread beyond the original location and into the surrounding breast tissue.

Because a stage 1 tumor is small, it may be difficult to detect. However, breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis, when the cancer is most treatable.Stage 1 breast cancer is divided into two categories:

Stage 1A: The tumor measures 2 cm or smaller and has not spread outside the breast.

Stage 1B: Small clusters of cancer cells measuring no more than 2 mm, are found in the lymph nodes, and either there is no tumor inside the breast, or the tumor is small, measuring 2 cm or less.

At stage 1, TNM designations help describe the extent of the disease. For example, there may or may not be cancer cells in the lymph nodes, and the size of the tumor may range from 1 cm to 2 cm. Most commonly, stage 1 breast cancer is described as:

  • T: T1, T2, T3 or T4, depending on the size and/or extent of the primary tumor
  • N0: Usually, cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • M0: The disease has not spread to other sites in the body.

Stage 1 breast cancer survival rate

The survival rate for stage 1A breast cancer may be slightly higher than for stage 1B. However, all women with stage 1 breast cancer are considered to have a good prognosis.

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What Is The Survival Rate Of Stage 4 Breast Cancer

The stage 4 breast cancer survival rate for 5 years is 28 percent. This rate is low comparing to the survival rate of all stages, which is nearly 90 percent. Because the survival rate is considerably higher in early stages of breast cancer, early detection is extremely important. Mammograms help detect breast cancer early before the disease has spread. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer type in women, so promoting awareness for early detection can make an impact.

The median survival rate of stage 4 breast cancer is three years. This means that after 3 years, 50 percent of patients are still alive. While this rate is for all stage 4 patients, the survival rate depends on several factors. For example, those with known biomarkers have access to new targeted drugs being developed in clinical trials for breast cancer patients of all stages. These new therapies are improving the outcomes of cancer patients, including those in stage 4.


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