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How Long Can You Live With Breast Cancer With Treatment

How Long Do People Live With Secondary Breast Cancer

How long can you live after breast cancer treatment? – Dr. Nanda Rajaneesh

One of the first things many people with secondary breast cancer want to know is how long theyve got to live.

Life expectancy is difficult to predict as each persons case is different and no two cancers progress in the same way. However, as treatments have improved, more and more people are living longer after a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

Your specialist will have an understanding of the likely progression of your secondary breast cancer and can talk to you about what you might expect. You may worry if their answers are vague but it isnt possible to accurately predict how each persons cancer will respond to treatment.

How Can I Take Care Of Myself While Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer

Living with metastatic breast cancer can be challenging. Your care team can help provide physical and emotional support. Talk to them about how you can:

  • Eat the most nutritious diet for your needs.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get emotional support, including finding support groups.
  • Reach out for help from friends, family and loved ones.
  • Find mental health services.
  • Find complementary therapies.

Lifestyle Changes After Breast Cancer

Lifestyle Changes after Breast Cancer Treatment: Conversations on Survival. A group of breast cancer survivors openly discuss what lifestyle changes were continued or changed after treatment. The importance of living in the moment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and knowing what is really important in life are all discussed.

To help yourself better cope with the side effects of breast cancer treatment and to reduce your chances of breast cancer recurrence, try incorporating these healthy tips:

1) Take care of yourself emotionally

  • Put your needs first sometimes
  • Attend a support group or find a breast cancer survivor you can talk with
  • Stay informed about new breast cancer research
  • Consider psychotherapy and/or antidepressants if warranted if youre taking tamoxifen, check with your oncologist to ensure the prescribed antidepressant does not interfere with your endocrine treatment
  • Communicate with your doctor about fears or concerns
  • Volunteer or become a breast cancer advocate

2) Take care of yourself physically

  • Exercise regularly
  • Report any physical changes to either your oncologist or primary care provider
  • Seek treatment for lymphedema if you experience signs

3) Eat healthy

Research has shown that a diet high in fat and calories increases circulating estrogen in the blood. Consuming a low fat and low calorie diet after breast cancer can improve your overall health and wellness. Here are some dietary suggestions:

4) Reduce stress

5) Limit alcohol

6) Exercise regularly

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What Is Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia and the second most common cancer to cause death in women, after lung cancer.

Breast cancer is the abnormal growth of the cells lining the breast lobules or ducts. These cells grow uncontrollably and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. Both men and women can develop breast cancer, although it is uncommon in men. Transwomen, non-binary people can also get breast cancer.

Transgender and gender-diverse people can also get breast cancer. A transgender woman taking medication to lower male hormones and boost female hormones may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

It is estimated that 19,866 women and 164 men in Australia will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021.

In Australia, the overall five year survival rate for breast cancer in females is 91%. If the cancer is limited to the breast, 96% of patients will be alive five years after diagnosis this figure excludes those who die from other diseases. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, five year relative survival drops to 80%.

Treatment depends on the extent of the cancer.

Outcome Analysis Of Breast Cancer Patients Who Declined Evidence

How long can you live after breast cancer treatment?

Here is the recent paper I referred to above, which studied women with breast cancer in Northern Alberta who refused standard treatments. It was also a chart review with a matched pair analysis that compared survival with those that received conventional cancer care. Between 1980 and 2006 they identified 185 women that refused cancer care following diagnosis by biopsy. Women older than 75 were excluded from the analysis because this population is generally not included in clinical trials and active treatment regimens. In addition, women that accepted surgery, but rejected chemotherapy/radiation were excluded from the analysis. To qualify, women had to have rejected all conventional care. The final population studied was 87 women, most of whom presented with early disease. Most were married, over the age of 50, and urban residents. In this group, the primary treatment was CAM in 58%, and was unknown in the remainder. Some women in this group eventually accepted cancer care, and the average delay was 20-30 weeks due to CAM use.

The results were grim. The 5 year overall survival was 43% for women that declined cancer care, and 86% for women that received conventional cancer care. For cancer-specific survival survival was 46% vs. 85% in those that took cancer care. The survival curves are ugly:

All causes of deaths and deaths due to breast cancer only

The authors compared the CAM group to those where treatment plan was not known:

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Exercise And Secondary Breast Cancer In The Liver

Some people with secondary breast cancer in the liver have no symptoms while others have a combination of pain, sickness, loss of appetite, hiccups, tiredness and fatigue. While physical activity may help reduce some symptoms its important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Gentle, regular activity, such as walking, is often most effective.

If youre currently having treatment you may need to exercise at a slightly lower level. Stop straight away if it hurts or feels like youre working too hard.

When choosing your exercise, try to focus on aerobic activities such as walking, swimming or cycling. Activities such as dancing and gardening can also be beneficial. You could also include some light toning or conditioning exercises such as stretching or low-impact yoga. The most important thing is to choose something you can safely enjoy.

When Is The Right Time To Use Hospice Care

Many people believe that hospice care is only appropriate in the last days or weeks of life. Yet Medicare states that it can be used as much as 6 months before death is anticipated. And those who have lost loved ones say that they wish they had called in hospice care sooner.

Research has shown that patients and families who use hospice services report a higher quality of life than those who dont. Hospice care offers many helpful services, including medical care, counseling, and respite care. People usually qualify for hospice when their doctor signs a statement saying that patients with their type and stage of disease, on average, arent likely to survive beyond 6 months. More information about hospice can be found below in the Related Resources section of this fact sheet.

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Are There Any Treatments For Terminal Cancer

Terminal cancer is incurable. This means no treatment will eliminate the cancer. But there are many treatments that can help make someone as comfortable as possible. This often involves minimizing the side effects of both the cancer and any medications being used.

Some doctors might still administer chemotherapy or radiation to prolong life expectancy, but this isnt always a feasible option.

What Are The Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Recurrence

How long can you expect to live with metastatic breast cancer?

You may experience different signs of breast cancer recurrence depending on where the cancer forms.

Local breast cancer recurrence may cause:

  • Breast lump or bumps on or under the chest.
  • Nipple changes, such as flattening or nipple discharge.
  • Swollen skin or skin that pulls near the lumpectomy site.
  • Thickening on or near the surgical scar.
  • Unusually firm breast tissue.
  • Biopsy of the site of suspected recurrence.

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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.

Receptors For Secondary Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cells may have receptors . Hormones, or a protein called HER2, can attach to the receptors and encourage the cells to grow. A doctor called a pathologist tests cancer cells taken during a biopsy or surgery for these receptors. Your doctor uses the results of these tests to help plan your treatment.

If you have had primary breast cancer before, the receptors may not be the same as when you were first diagnosed. This may mean different treatments are useful. Your doctor may be able to diagnose a secondary cancer from your scan results. But they may still recommend a biopsy to find out more about the cancer cell receptors.Cancer that does not have receptors for either hormones or HER2 is called triple negative breast cancer.

Also Check: Estrogen Negative Cancer

Rejecting Cancer Treatment: What Are The Consequences

There have been several studies of people who have refused scientific treatments for cancer. The results have not been good.

These do not cure cancer

One of the points Ive tried to emphasize through my contributions to Science-Based Medicine is that every treatment decision requires an evaluation of risks and benefits. No treatment is without some sort of risk. And a decision to decline treatment has its own risks. One of the challenges that I confront regularly as a pharmacist is helping patients understand a medications expected long-term benefits against the risks and side effects of treatment. This dialogue is most challenging with symptomless conditions like high blood pressure, where patients face the prospect of immediate side effects against the potential for long-term benefit. Ones willingness to accept side effects is influenced, in part, by and understanding of, and belief in, the overall goals of therapy. Side effects from blood-pressure medications can be unpleasant. But weighed against the reduced risk of catastrophic events like strokes, drug therapy may be more acceptable. Willingness to accept these tradeoffs varies dramatically by disease, and are strongly influenced by patient-specific factors. In general, the more serious the illness, the greater the willingness to accept the risks of treatment.

Relationships With Friends And Family

How Long You Can Wait to Be Treated for Breast Cancer

It’s not always easy to talk about cancer, either for you or your family and friends. You may sense that some people feel awkward around you or avoid you.

Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. However, do not be afraid to tell them that you need some time to yourself if that’s what you need.

Want to know more?

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When To Stop Cancer Treatment

When you have cancer and you have tried many treatments without success, its hard to know when to stop treatment. Sometimes, even with the best care, cancer continues to spread. It is hard to accept, but the best thing for you at that point may be to stop the cancer treatment. Instead, you could focus on getting care to keep you comfortable and out of pain.

The following explains how to know when it is time to stop treatment and focus on end-of-life care. You can use this information to talk with your doctor about your options and choose the best care for you.

Cancer responds best to treatment the first time.

When you treat a tumor for the first time, there is hope that the treatment will destroy the cancer cells and keep them from returning. But if your tumor keeps growing, even with treatment, there is a lower chance that more treatment will help.

This is especially true for solid-tumor cancers, like breast, colon, and lung cancer, and sarcoma. Doctors know a lot about how these cancers grow or shrink over time and how they respond to treatment. They have found that treatment after treatment offers little or no benefit.

When is it time to think about stopping cancer treatment?

Still, almost half of people with advanced cancer keep getting chemotherapyeven when it has almost no chance of helping them. They end up suffering when they should not have to.

How do you know when to stop treatment?

Hospice care improves your quality of life.

Knowing What To Expect In The Final Days Or Hours Helps Comfort The Family

Most people don’t know the signs that show death is near. Knowing what to expect can help them get ready for the death of their loved one and make this time less stressful and confusing. Healthcare providers can give family members information about the changes they may see in their loved one in the final hours and how they may help their loved one through this.

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Palliative And Supportive Care

Palliative and supportive care focuses on symptom control and support. Its an extremely important part of the care and treatment for many people living with secondary breast cancer and can significantly improve quality of life for them and their families.

People often associate palliative care with end-of-life treatment. However, many people value having it at any stage of their illness, alongside their medical treatment, to help prevent and relieve symptoms such as pain or fatigue. It can also help with the emotional, social and spiritual effects of secondary breast cancer.

The palliative and support care teams are based in hospitals, hospices and the community. You can be referred by your treatment team, GP or breast care nurse depending on your situation.

Treatment Of Stage Iii Breast Cancers

How Fast Can Breast Cancer Spread?

Sometimes large breast cancers invade into muscles or attach to major arteries, veins or nerve trunks, which makes them impossible to surgically remove completely.

So, for these patients, the treatment usually starts with radiation or chemo to try to shrink it first, before surgery. But even a large tumor that has not attached itself onto muscle can, sometimes, be completely removed. There is no direct relationship between tumor size and whether or not it may be treated surgically or not.

Obviously, Stage 3 breast cancers that surgeons can completely remove do tend to have a significantly better prognosis than inoperable stage 3 breast cancers. However, some breast tumors, particularly those that are ER-positive, respond very well to chemotherapy. So well, in fact, that they actually downstage.

So, it is difficult to predict the overall prognosis for stage 3 breast cancer, as it will vary from individual to individual. If the response to chemotherapy is favorable, the overall survival rate is around 72%.

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What Are The Signs That The Person Has Died

  • The person is no longer breathing and doesnt have a pulse.
  • Their eyes dont move or blink, and the pupils are dilated . The eyelids may be slightly open.
  • The jaw is relaxed and the mouth is slightly open.
  • The body releases the bowel and bladder contents.
  • The person doesnt respond to being touched or spoken to.
  • The persons skin is very pale and cool to the touch.

Dealing With Changes To Your Body

A diagnosis of breast cancer may change how you think about your body. All women react differently to the physical changes that happen as a result of breast cancer treatment.

Some women react positively, but others find it more difficult to cope. It’s important to give yourself time to come to terms with any changes to your body.

Want to know more?

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Screening For Breast Cancer

Women aged between 50 and 74 are invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.

Women aged 40-49 and 75 and over are also eligible to receive free mammograms, however they do not receive an invitation to attend.

It is recommended that women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, aged between 40 and 49 or over 75 discuss options with their GP, or contact BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50.

Breast Cancer Metastasis To Liver

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When cancer spreads to the liver, it is called “secondary liver cancer.” It is also referred to by the same name as the original cancer. Breast cancer that has spread to the liver is known as, breast cancer metastasis to liver and will always be known as breast cancer. This is because the cancer cells that are found in the liver are still composed of breast cells. This is why it is different from primary liver cancer. This article explains how and when breast cancer spreads to the liver and what can be done to slow the progression.

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What Is Stage 3 Breast Cancer

Also known as locally advanced breast cancer, the tumor in this stage of breast cancer is more than 2 inches in diameter across and the cancer is extensive in the underarm lymph nodes or has spread to other lymph nodes or tissues near the breast. Stage 3 breast cancer is a more advanced form of invasive breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer cells have usually not spread to more distant sites in the body, but they are present in several axillary lymph nodes. The tumor may also be quite large at this stage, possibly extending to the chest wall or the skin of the breast.

Stage 3 breast cancer is divided into three categories:

Stage 3A: One of the following is true:

  • No tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is present in axillary lymph nodes that are attached to either other or other structures, or cancer may be found in the lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
  • The tumor is 2 cm or smaller. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone, or
  • The tumor is 2 cm to 4 cm in size. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
  • The tumor is larger than 5 cm. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that may be attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Stage 3C:

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