Tuesday, April 23, 2024
HomeHow Does Metastatic Breast Cancer Spread

How Does Metastatic Breast Cancer Spread

When Is It Given

Metastatic Bone Cancer: Bone Pain When Breast & Prostate Cancer Spreads

Electrochemotherapy may be used to treat skin metastases when other treatments havent worked or when surgery isnt suitable.

It can also be given alongside other treatments, or given to skin which has previously been treated with radiotherapy.

Electrochemotherapy may not be suitable for some people with certain lung conditions.

Where Can Breast Cancer Go

Breast cancer mostly spreads to the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. When it does, you may start to notice symptoms that affect that area of your body.

Bones: swelling, intense pain, bones that break easily, and pain in your bones, back, neck, or joints

Lungs: long-lasting cough, trouble breathing, chest pain

Liver: Jaundice, or skin with a yellow tint, rashes and itchy skin, not feeling hungry, stomach pain

Brain: headaches that wonât go away, problems with your vision, seizures, vomiting and nausea, memory troubles, feeling dizzy

Other, less common, places where breast cancer spreads include:

  • Ovaries
  • Adrenal glands
  • Pancreas
  • Skin

Let your doctor know as soon as you can if you have any of these symptoms. They donât always mean your cancer has moved to another organ, but your doctor might want you to take some tests to make sure.

Symptoms Of Metastasis May Vary Depending On Where The Cancer Has Spread To

Here are some symptoms that vary by locations commonly associated with breast cancer metastasis.

Metastasis in the bone may cause:

  • Severe, progressive pain
  • Bones that are more easily fractured or broken

Metastasis to the brain may cause:

  • Persistent, progressively worsening headache or pressure to the head
  • Vision disturbances
  • Behavioral changes or personality changes

Metastasis to the liver may cause:

  • Jaundice
  • Abnormally high enzymes in the liver
  • Abdominal pain, appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting

Metastasis to the lungs may cause:

  • Chronic cough or inability to get a full breath
  • Abnormal chest X-ray
  • Chest pain
  • Other nonspecific systemic symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can include fatigue, weight loss, and poor appetite, but its important to remember these can also be caused by medication or depression.

If you notice these symptoms, be sure you talk with your physician. They could be important for getting the treatment you need.

Interested in learning more? i3Health is hosting an upcoming webinar Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Applying Treatment Advances to Personalized Care. Learn more here.

Also Check: Did Anne Hathaway Have Cancer

Metastatic Breast Cancer Is Terminal

Metastatic breast cancer cant be cured and it is terminal. One thing I didnt know when I was first diagnosed is that breast cancer can only kill you if you have metastatic breast cancer, says Rosen, who explains that if your cancer remains in the breast, the tumor can be removed, but metastatic means it has spread outside the breast.

MBC is almost like a different disease than early-stage breast cancer, adds Ann Silberman, 60, from Sacramento, California, who was diagnosed in 2009. We are going to die. Our concerns are much different from those of a person who has a treatment that will be over . Someone in an earlier stage may worry about losing their hair which is understandable but they will return to their normal life at some point.

People with metastatic breast cancer expect to be on treatment for the rest of their lives. I dont think everyone understands that, Silberman says. I still get, When will your treatment be over? Well, its never going to be over.

Stage Iv Breast Cancers May Be Recurrences Following Initial Treatment

Cancers Spread to Bone

Up to 5% of initial breast cancer diagnoses are of the most advanced or metastatic stage. However, this number has significantly reduced with the implementation of widespread breast cancer screening programs.

Metastatic breast cancer can appear to be a rapid deterioration of a disease that has been present for some time undetected.

But metastatic breast cancer can also be the result of a recurrence of breast cancer after successful initial treatment. Sometimes the terms local and regional recurrence indicate a return of breast cancer to the original tumor site or elsewhere in the breast or contralateral breast.

If the cancer returns in other areas of the body it is a distant metastasis or distant recurrence.

For more detail on Stage IV survival rates, recurrence rates and treatment please see our new post HERE.

You May Like: What Is Estrogen Positive Breast Cancer

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:

Plans Have To Be Flexible

My energy is unpredictable, says Sendelbach. I literally never know how Im going to feel from one day to the next. Its so hard to make plans because if I say yes to something thats two weeks away, the day of, I could wake up and feel absolutely horrible.

When someone with metastatic breast cancer declines an invitation or cancels at the last minute, its most likely not because they dont want to be there. Says Sendelbach, We physically cant do it.

Silberman agrees. Ive been going through for a long time, she says, and Ive had friends drop away. Because of MBC and my treatments, its hard for me to be reliable.

Don’t Miss: Does Getting Hit In The Breast Cause Cancer

Symptoms Of Secondary Breast Cancer

The symptoms of secondary breast cancer depend on where in the body the cancer has spread to. If it has spread to the bones there might be a painful area in a bone. If it has spread to a lung it may cause breathlessness.

Some people have general symptoms. They may feel generally unwell for no obvious reason. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any new symptoms. If you are worried, we have more information about the symptoms of secondary breast cancer.

What Investigations Are Necessary For Staging Breast Cancer

Metastatic Breast Cancer — An Introduction

Breast cancer staging almost always involves a bone scan, as breast cancer is highly prone to metastasize to the bones.

During this test, medics inject a small amount of a radioactive substance into the bloodstream, where it eventually collects in the bones. A radiation scanner is then able to detect accumulations of tracer substance in the bones.

If breast cancer spreads beyond the breast, 25% of the time it goes into bones first.

Also Check: Breast Cancer Symptoms Weight Gain

Most Common Places It Spreads

It’s still breast cancer, even if it’s in another organ. For example, if breast cancer spreads to your lungs, that doesn’t mean you have lung cancer. Although it can spread to any part of your body, there are certain places it’s most likely to go to, including the lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs, and brain.

Where Breast Cancer Tends To Go

Breast cancer most often spreads to these organs:

Bones. Breast cancer travels to the bones through the bloodstream. The ribs, spine, pelvis, and long bones of the arms and legs are the most common bones that breast cancer reaches. Bone pain and tenderness are signs the cancer is in your bones. Breast cancer cells can also get into bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.

Liver. Cancer cells can get into the liver through the bloodstream because the liver filters the blood.

Lungs. The lungs are another common site for metastatic breast cancer to spread because your blood flows through them to pick up oxygen.

Brain. Any type of breast cancer can spread to the brain, but HER2-positive and triple-negative cancers are most likely to reach this organ. Signs of cancer in the brain include headaches, seizures, vision changes, and dizziness.

You May Like: Is Breast Cancer Curable In The 3 Stage

Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment And Planning

After a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, its helpful to take all the time you need to gather information and make decisions about your treatment. Learn about the medical specialists that may be involved in your care, treatment options, genetic testing, taking a break from treatment, and more.

SurgeryDoctors sometimes recommend surgery for metastatic breast cancer in order, for example, to prevent broken bones or cancer cell blockages in the liver. Learn more.

ChemotherapyChemotherapy is used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer to damage or destroy the cancer cells as much as possible. Learn more.

Radiation TherapyYour doctor may suggest radiation therapy if youre having symptoms for reasons such as easing pain and controlling the cancer in a specific area. Learn more.

Hormonal TherapyHormonal therapy medicines are used to help shrink or slow the growth of hormone-receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer. Learn more.

Targeted TherapyTargeted therapies target specific characteristics of cancer cells, such as a protein that allows the cancer cells to grow in a rapid or abnormal way. Learn more.

Local Treatments for Distant Areas of MetastasisLocal treatments are directed specifically to the new locations of the breast cancer such as the bones or liver. These treatments may be recommended if, for example, the metastatic breast cancer is causing pain. Learn more.

Why Does Metastatic Breast Cancer Happen

Have Scientists Found a Way to Control Uncontrolled Cell ...

Most often, metastatic cancer occurs because treatment didnt destroy all the cancer cells. Sometimes, a few cells remain dormant, or are hidden and undetectable. Then, for reasons providers dont fully understand, the cells begin to grow and spread again.

De novo metastatic breast cancer means that at the time of initial diagnosis, the breast cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. In the absence of treatment, the cancer spreads.

There is nothing you can do to keep breast cancer from metastasizing. And metastatic breast cancer doesnt happen because of something you did.

Recommended Reading: How To Detect Breast Cancer Early

Advanced Or Metastatic Breast Cancer: Stage Iv

Stage IV breast cancers indicate the presence of distant metastasis to other parts of the body, such as the liver or bones.

About 5% of women, in 2017 have a stage IV breast cancer at the time of initial diagnosis.

The long term survival rate for stage IV breast cancer tends to be low, but is improving all the time. In 2012 the National Cancer Institute statistics show the 5-year survival rate for Stage IV breast cancer to be around 22%.

However, a more recent study shows that 37% of women survive for 3 years after a Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis.

Also, it is important to remember that each case is individual and there is no telling exact survival rates for any of the stages of breast cancer.

Can You Do Anything To Prevent Or Slow The Spread Of Breast Cancer

Like any type of cancer, there are factors that can put you at higher risk. For breast cancer, these include things like smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and not performing monthly self-breast exams. Its also important to make sure and get your annual mammogram for breast cancer screening.

Other risk factors can include using hormone-based prescriptions, how many children youve had in the past, getting older and at what age you got your period and went through menopause.

In some instances, you cant necessarily prevent breast cancer, but you can sometimes slow it down, stop it from spreading or reduce the size of the tumor, says Dr. Roesch. You can do this by taking your medications as directed, following through with treatments, going to your appointments and being involved in your cancer care.

Youre in control of taking your medication correctly, eating a healthy diet, participating in an exercise program and managing stress. All of these things can contribute to a stronger physical body and better mental attitude both of which can have a positive impact on your breast cancer diagnosis.

Also Check: How To Tell If Cancer Has Metastasized

Dilemmas Of Stage Iv Breast Cancer

Indeed, there are many serious and personal questions involving stage IV breast cancer. So, overall survival is less likely, and gains from intensive breast cancer treatment are unfortunately rather modest. A serious consideration is, therefore, quality of life during the course of treatment.

These decisions tend to be a dynamic process, based on individual cases, between patients and physicians. Respect needs to be given to the expectations for treatment, the status of the disease and the patient wishes.

Progression While Being Treated With Hormone Therapy

How Cancer Spreads (Metastasis) – Michael Henry, PhD

For hormone receptor-positive cancers that were being treated with hormone therapy, switching to another type of hormone therapy sometimes helps. For example, if either letrozole or anastrozole were given, using exemestane, possibly with everolimus , may be an option. Another option might be using fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor , along with a CDK inhibitor. If the cancer has a PIK3CA mutation and has grown while on an aromatase inhibitor, fulvestrant with alpelisib might be considered. If the cancer is no longer responding to any hormone drugs, chemotherapy is usually the next step.

Also Check: Anne Hathaway Breast

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.

Stages Of Breast Cancer: Stage Iiic

Stage IIIc breast cancers basically involve tumors of any size with significant metastases to:-

  • the lymph nodes behind the sternum
  • lymph nodes under the arm
  • the lymph nodes above or below the collarbone

The extent and depth of lymph node involvement make these patients unsuitable candidates for surgical treatment as a primary mode of therapy. Chemotherapy is the treatment of choice for women with stage IIIb and IIIc breast cancers.

However, up to 70% of patients with stage III breast cancers who have chemotherapy remain alive and disease-free after 7 years.

You May Like: Is Breast Cancer Curable In The 3 Stage

Evolution Of Metastatic Traits

These conceptual inconsistencies and confusions start to become solved by recent insights on the evolvement of metastatic traits in breast tumors. A case in point is Src activity in breast cancer cells, which is both a functional mediator and a prognostic indicator of bone metastasis in breast tumors. Querying how Src activity is enriched in tumors, three general principles emerge that may lead to the evolution of metastatic traits.

Myth #: If Youre Diagnosed With Metastatic Breast Cancer You Did Something Wrong Or Didnt Get The Right Treatment The First Time

the breast cancer and its different type ,stages and ...

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.

Recommended Reading: Is Breast Cancer Curable In The 3 Stage

About Those Lymph Nodes

A surgeon will usually take a lymph node biopsy to determine if the breast cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes. This is not always necessary, however. A lymph node biopsy is not usually necessary for DCIS. However, for invasive breast cancer, yes, they do need to check the lymph nodes.

Sometimes, doctors will perform a sentinel node biopsy, rather than a full lymph node excisional biopsy if the concerns about cancer spread are minimal. Cancer cells tend to appear first in the sentinel node before spreading to the other nodes, or other areas of the body.

RELATED ARTICLES

Popular Articles