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How Do People Die From Breast Cancer

Myth #: If An Earlier

Lung cancer is one of the most preventable causes of cancer deaths

Ninety percent of MBC diagnoses occur in people who have already been treated for an earlier-stage breast cancer. Many people are under the impression that remaining cancer-free for 5 years means that a metastatic recurrence cant happen. However, distant recurrences can occur several years or even decades after initial diagnosis. Factors such as original tumor size and the number of lymph nodes involved can help predict the risk of recurrence.

For example, a 2017 survey of 88 studies involving nearly 63,000 women diagnosed with early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer found that the risk of distant recurrence within 20 years ranged from 13% to 41%, depending on tumor size and lymph node involvement.1

As KatyK of Idaho comments: that you are cured if you are cancer-free 5 years after initial diagnosis. I fell for that one myself. When I was diagnosed with MBC 12 years after initial diagnosis I was shocked. I thought I was cured, which to me means all better. Nope! Not even sure medically what cured means.

Complications Of Metastatic Disease

In stage 4 lung cancer, the malignant cells have metastasized beyond the lungs to other parts of the body. Sometimes the tumors will shut down the organ. Other times, the cancer interferes with the normal functioning of those organs causing other complications.

In the study of causes of death in lung cancer, metastatic complications were responsible for 18% of deaths.

These complications cause fatalities in very different ways. For example, lung cancer metastatic to the brain can disrupt your ability to walk, talk, and swallow, or it may result in a hemorrhagic stroke. Once lung cancer is in the nervous system, it can also cause leptomeningeal metastases, when cancer cells invade the cerebrospinal fluid, which is a terminal stage of the disease.

Lung cancer metastatic to the liver can interfere with the liver’s ability to do its job of removing toxins from the body, causing a buildup that can lead to death.

Lung cancer can sometimes spread to the pericardium, which surrounds the heart. This may cause bleeding between this lining and the heart, resulting in compression of the organ and sudden, rapidalthough painlessdeath.

How Cancer Causes Death

Even though cancer can lead to death, it’s not necessarily cancer that causes someone to die. Causes of cancer deaths can include:

  • Organ failure due to the size and stress of a tumor
  • Complications during surgery
  • Organ rupture due to tumor size
  • Infection due to the immune system’s ability to fight off illness while on cancer treatment

Since all the organs in our body connect one way or another, all it takes is for one to begin shutting down, and the rest may start to follow suit. In the end, the person with cancer passes away.

Depending on the type of cancer, the cause of death can vary. Here are some more details on how cancer can cause death.

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Focusing On Men With Breast Cancer

Fewer than 1% of breast cancers diagnosed each year occur in men, noted Alexandra Zimmer, M.D., of the Womens Malignancies Branch in NCIs Center for Cancer Research, who was not involved in the study.

So far, we have been mostly lumping men with breast cancer and women with breast cancer in clinical trials and evaluations, Dr. Zimmer said.

As a result, the treatment of male breast cancer has largely been based on studies involving women with the disease, she continued.

The results of this retrospective study suggest that men with breast cancer deserve dedicated studies that will help us to better understand the biology of the disease in males, Dr. Zimmer said.

When Should You Ask For Hospice Care

5 Things a breast cancer survivor wants to tell people

Very often we hear people say they wish they had opted for hospice care earlier on, so how can you know when it is time?

In order to receive hospice care, you usually need a physicians note saying that you are expected to live six months or less. If you live longer, that’s not a problem and there’s no penalty. Your care can either be renewed for another six months or discontinued. You can also change your mind at any time if you decide you would rather pursue treatments designed to treat your cancer.

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Should I Get A Second Opinion

For many women, taking the time to weigh their options means getting more than one medical opinion, or looking into clinical trials or research studies, Newman said.

“There is no magic deadline,” she stressed. “But a general rule of thumb is that we dont like to see patients delaying the start of their treatment more than four to six weeks after the diagnosis has been made. The stage and type of breast cancer can influence how quickly the treatment should be initiated.”

Health Disparities In Young African Americans

In addition to these unique issues, research has shown that young African American women face even greater challenges.

  • African American women under age 35 have rates of breast cancer two times higher than caucasian women under age 35.14
  • African Americans under age 35 die from breast cancer three times as often as caucasian women of the same age.14
  • Researchers believe that access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare available may explain these disparities. But scientists continue to investigate.
  • Research also shows that young African Americans are more likely to get aggressive forms of breast cancer than anyone else.14

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Study Looks At How Many Women Die From Breast Cancer After A Dcis Diagnosis

DCIS is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer and is considered stage 0 cancer. While DCIS isnt considered life threatening, it does increase the risk of developing invasive breast cancer later in life.

DCIS usually is found when a biopsy is done on a suspicious area found by a mammogram. As old cancer cells die off and pile up, tiny specks of calcium form within the broken-down cells. The mammogram will show the cancer cells inside the ducts as a cluster of these microcalcifications, which appear either as white specks or as a shadow. Most of the time, you dont feel DCIS as a lump. If the biopsy results find DCIS, doctors want to remove the whole area of concern to make sure the DCIS has been removed completely. Its most important to know if theres any evidence of invasive cancer.

DCIS usually is treated with surgery to remove the cancer in most cases a lumpectomy even though DCIS doesnt usually form a lump. After lumpectomy, many women have radiation therapy to the rest of the breast. Radiation reduces the risk of an invasive cancer and also helps reduce the risk of DCIS coming back . If the DCIS is hormone-receptor-positive , hormonal therapy also may be recommended after lumpectomy.

The study was published online on Aug. 20, 2015 by JAMA Oncology. Read Breast Cancer Mortality After a Diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.

The researchers noted:

What Tumor Factors Threaten My Life More

How Not to Die from Cancer

There are important tumor biology factors not well reflected in survival statistics by breast cancer stage. Below we list a few important factors that carry a higher risk to life beyond just the stage of cancer. You must ask your surgeon or medical oncologist to explain your receptor status and give you a copy of your biopsy pathology report.

Triple Negative Receptor breast cancer

Triple negative breast cancer is considered a more aggressive breast cancer. Invariably it does require chemotherapy. If you have triple negative breast cancer the risk of dying is higher than the standard statistics usually quoted for a particular stage of breast cancer . Learn more about Triple Negative Breast Cancer with our video lesson

HER2-Positive breast cancer

HER2-positive breast cancers are also more aggressive tumors. But the good news is that we now have incredibly effective, targeted chemotherapy and immunotherapy for HER2-positive cancers. Our video lesson covers HER2-Positive Breast Cancer in more detail .

Breast Cancer at a Young Age

Women younger than 40 have a higher chance of being diagnosed with a more advanced stage breast cancer. Also, the specific cancer type younger women develop has a higher chance of being more aggressive . As a result, age is a relative risk factor for survival.

Untreated breast cancer

Teaching everyone to be an expert in their own breast cancer care.

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What Can You Tell Me About The Alcohol And Breast Cancer Link

While countless studies support that wine is good for your heart health, you have to weigh these benefits against its link to cancer.

“There is good evidence that alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer,” Schnabel explained. “Specifically, women who drink at the rate of seven drinks per week have about a 20-percent increase in their risk for breast cancer.”

Is Cancer Increasing Or Decreasing

From 1999 to 2019, cancer death rates went down 27%, from 200.8 to 146.2 deaths per 100,000 population. Healthy People 2030 set a target of 122.7 cancer deathsexternal icon per 100,00 population. Cancer death rates went down more among males than among females but were still higher among males than females .

NOTES: Deaths were classified using the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. Cancer deaths were identified using underlying cause-of-death codes C00-C97 . Rates were age-adjusted to the 2000 US standard population.

National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data.

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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.

Why Knowing Can Be Helpful

CDC: Race a Factor in Breast Cancer Death Rate

Learning what is known about the possible future of your disease course can help you identify steps you can take now to prevent or manage such risks and, hopefully, avoid premature death.

For example, knowing the potential for and risk associated with blood clots, you can be on the lookout for symptoms and signs that should prompt you to seek medical care.

Knowing all the mortality risks of advanced stages of lung cancer can also improve your overall quality of life. Even if the causes can’t be directly treated, the symptoms that result may be able to be eased by appropriate therapies.

Furthermore, a full understanding of how people can die from lung cancer allows you and your loved ones to make a plan if you choose to stop cancer treatment or move to palliative care. Having some idea of what to expect can help those close to you be ready to help in any way possible.

Knowledge is power. Being clear about what may be in store can at least help reduce the element of stress that stems from something being unknown.

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How Do People Die From Cancer You Asked Google Heres The Answer

Our consultation is nearly finished when my patient leans forward, and says, So, doctor, in all this time, no one has explained this. Exactly how will I die? He is in his 80s, with a head of snowy hair and a face lined with experience. He has declined a second round of chemotherapy and elected to have palliative care. Still, an academic at heart, he is curious about the human body and likes good explanations.

What have you heard? I ask. Oh, the usual scary stories, he responds lightly but the anxiety on his face is unmistakable and I feel suddenly protective of him.

Would you like to discuss this today? I ask gently, wondering if he might want his wife there.

As you can see Im dying to know, he says, pleased at his own joke.

If you are a cancer patient, or care for someone with the illness, this is something you might have thought about. How do people die from cancer? is one of the most common questions asked of Google. Yet, its surprisingly rare for patients to ask it of their oncologist. As someone who has lost many patients and taken part in numerous conversations about death and dying, I will do my best to explain this, but first a little context might help.

But the sobering truth is that advanced cancer is incurable and although modern treatments can control symptoms and prolong survival, they cannot prolong life indefinitely. This is why I think its important for anyone who wants to know, how cancer patients actually die.

What Is Cdc Doing To Reduce Cancer Deaths

CDCs framework to reduce cancer deaths includes eliminating preventable cancers, ensuring that all people get the right screening at the right time, and helping cancer survivors live longer, healthier lives. CDC supports foundational programs that aim to reduce the cancer burden through multi-disciplinary collaboration and coordination. These programs include the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, the Colorectal Cancer Control Program, the National Program of Cancer Registries, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.

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End Of Life Concerns With Metastatic Breast Cancer

Despite encouraging advances in breast cancer treatment that have dramatically prolonged survival even when diagnosed at a metastatic stage, there still is a significant group of less fortunate patients that die from this condition every year.

The usual scenario goes like this: People with metastatic breast cancer want to talk about these concerns, but are afraid to upset their loved onesso they stay quiet. On the other side, loved ones are afraid of upsetting you by talking about the end of life issuesso they say nothing.

The same holds true even for patients and oncologists, and studies tell us that these conversations take place much less often than they should.

Many people fear these discussions are a sign of giving up. However, talking about your wishes does not mean you are giving up at all. It does not mean that you have lost hope that you will be one of the people who live for decades with stage 4 breast cancer. What it means, instead, is that you want your decisions to be thought out, and not left to chance. It’s a way to communicate your wishes before circumstances may force you to do so.

The best place to start is with the most important step. How can you begin these discussions with your loved ones?

Survival Rates By Race

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White women in the United States are most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Between 2013 and 2017, 131.3 per 100,000 white women were diagnosed with the disease.

There is, however, variation within that group: non-Hispanic white women were far more likely to have been diagnosed than Hispanic white women.

Black women are the second most likely group to get breast cancer , followed by Asian and Pacific Island women , Hispanic , and American Indian and Alaska Native women .

Survival rates also vary according to race and ethnicity.

From 2013 to 2017, Asian and Pacific Islander women had the lowest death rate, at 11.4 per 100,000 women. This was followed by Hispanic women , American Indian and Alaska Native women , white women , and non-Hispanic white women .

Black women had the highest death rate, at 27.6 per 100,000 women, despite being the second most likely group to get breast cancer.

This could possibly be due to a lack of access to care. seem to affect disparity in breast cancer mortality. These include:

  • poverty

The most important factor that affects breast cancer survival is whether the cancer has metastasized, or spread to other body organs. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chance of treating breast cancer before it advances.

Some types of breast cancer are more aggressive than others. Five-year survival rates tend to be lower for women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer .

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Noncancer Causes Of Death Within 1 To 5 Years After Bc Diagnosis

In total, 84,541 women with BC died within 1 to 5 years after cancer diagnosis, of whom 49,545 died from BC , 7564 died from other cancers , and 27,432 died from noncancer causes. The most common noncancer cause of death during the period was diseases of the heart , followed by cerebrovascular diseases , COPD , and Alzheimer disease . The risk of death from any noncancer cause did not significantly increase within 1 to 5 years after BC diagnosis compared with the general population .

Causes of death within 1 to 5 years after BC diagnosis in specific subgroups according to demographic-related and tumor-related characteristics generally followed trends similar to those in the overall population .

Black patients with BC and patients who were diagnosed with BC at ages < 40 years had a significantly higher risk of death from cardiac or renal diseases within 1 to 5 years after their cancer diagnosis . Conversely, white patients with BC and patients who had regional BC had a significantly higher risk of death from chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis . Native American/Alaska Native patients had a higher risk of death from cardiac, renal, or hepatic diseases .


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