Emotional And Spiritual Care
End-of-life care also includes emotional, mental, and spiritual therapy. A personâs healthcare team may include social workers, counselors, mental health professionals, and religious or spiritual advisors.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, up to 40 percent of people with cancer experience serious mental distress. This may include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder .
Medications, therapy, religious or spiritual rituals, and support groups can help a person cope with mental health issues and stress during this difficult time.
Caregivers may also need help with stress, anxiety, and depression. The palliative care team can usually also provide support and advice to caregivers for their emotional needs.
The Breast Cancer Healthline app provides people with access to an online breast cancer community, where users can connect with others and gain advice and support through group discussions.
Our Advice To Other Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer: Be Nice To Yourself
Give yourself a break! is the advice that Sendelbach offers. Stop negative self-talk about what you should have done but didnt do, she says. If you have MBC, you need to be kind and loving to yourself.
The body has only so much energy to offer per day, and managing metastatic breast cancer requires a lot of it. So it doesnt make sense to try to compare what youre able to do with what your cancer-free friends are accomplishing.
Just getting through the day can be hard, Sendelbach says. Getting rid of those not good enough feelings can lift a huge weight off you.
Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Advanced breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. This process of spreading from the original location to a new location is known as metastasis.
The most common places of breast cancer spread include the bones, liver, lung, and brain. However, breast cancer may also spread to other organs.
The majority of women who are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have been diagnosed with an earlier stage of breast cancer before. In this instance, the original cancer in the breast is called the primary cancer. However, for some women, a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer may be their first diagnosis of cancer .
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What Makes Someone A Breast Cancer Survivor
Multiple factors affect a persons short- and long-term outlook with breast cancer. In addition to the tumor characteristics above, these factors include demographic and lifestyle factors such as:
- Age: Research suggests that women who develop breast cancer under the age of 35 years tend to have aggressive, fast-growing tumors that have often spread by the time of diagnosis. Their outlook tends to be poorer than that for older, postmenopausal women with breast cancer.
- Race and ethnicity: According to a
- 2016 review , some but not all studies on alcohol consumption among breast cancer survivors have linked drinking to increased risk of recurrence.
Although some of these factors are not modifiable, others are. Overall, research suggests that practicing healthy lifestyle factors may help reduce the risk of recurrence and improve survival among people with breast cancer.
Relative Survival Rates For Breast Cancer
The National Cancer Institute gives 5-year relative survival rates for breast cancer based on how far the disease had spread before a doctor found it.
- Localized : 99%
- Regional : 86%
- Distant : 28%
- Unknown stage: 55%
- All stages: 90%
While these numbers can give you a general idea, they are an average for women with any type of breast cancer. They arenât specific to the HER2+ type. They also come from data that researchers collected from 2010 to 2016, so they donât reflect more recent treatment advances.
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Can Metastatic Breast Cancer Go Into Remission
Metastatic breast cancer may never go away completely. But treatment can control its spread. Cancer may even go into remission at some points. This means you have fewer signs and symptoms of cancer.
A treatment break may be considered in certain situations, including if remission occurs or if someone is experiencing intolerable side effects. A pause in treatment can help you feel your best and improve your quality of life.
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Money And Financial Support
If you have to reduce or stop work because of breast cancer, you may find it difficult to cope financially.
If you have cancer or you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to financial support:
- if you have a job but cannot work because of your illness, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you’re caring for someone with cancer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance
- you may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home, or if you have a low household income
Find out what help is available to you as soon as possible. The social worker at your hospital will be able to give you the information you need.
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What Tumor Factors Threaten My Life More
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
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How Long Can You Live With Stage 4 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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Your Journey After Treatment
Today, there are more breast cancer survivors in the United States than any other group of cancer survivors. Three million, to be exact. This staggering number means that in some way, breast cancer has probably touched the lives of at least a couple people you know. And it also means that more and more people are benefiting from early detection and advances in treatment. These days, breast cancer survivors often live long, satisfying, happy lives. Here are a few tips for embracing your new normal and inspiring others along the way.
The Advocate Steps Up
She didn’t start out as an advocate for Black patients with cancer. Jamil Rivers was a breast cancer patient herself, and doing well. Other patients would drop by the chemo infusion room and ask her for advice.
“They were saying, ‘Hey, you seem to be doing OK. You know, can you share what you know?’ And then it just kind of grew from there” into a nonprofit Rivers founded, called the Chrysalis Initiative.
“I would always hear that the reason why Black women were dying at such a higher rate from breast cancer was social and biological differences and poverty and all these different rationales,” Rivers says. “But then, as I started finding out more, I found that the biggest contributor was actually the racism.”
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What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Like many conditions, risk factors for breast cancer fall into the categories of things you can control and things that you cannot control. Risk factors affect your chances of getting a disease, but having a risk factor does not mean that you are guaranteed to get a certain disease.
Controllable risk factors for breast cancer
- Alcohol consumption. The risk of breast cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, women who consume two or three alcoholic beverages daily have an approximately 20% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who do not drink at all.
- Body weight. Being obese is a risk factor for breast cancer. It is important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Breast implants. Having silicone breast implants and resulting scar tissue make it harder to distinguish problems on regular mammograms. It is best to have a few more images to improve the examination. There is also a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma that is associated with the implants.
- Choosing not to breastfeed. Not breastfeeding can raise the risk.
- Using hormone-based prescriptions. This includes using hormone replacement therapy during menopause for more than five years and taking certain types of birth control pills.
Non-controllable risk factors for breast cancer
More Women Are Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer And Living Longer
According to research from the National Cancer Institute , the number of women living with metastatic breast cancer in the United States is increasing at the same time, women with metastatic disease are living longer, especially younger women.
The research was published online on May 18, 2017 by the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Read the abstract of Estimation of the Number of Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer in the United States.
Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to parts of the body away from the breast, such as the bones or liver. Metastatic breast cancer is stage IV cancer. A woman can be diagnosed with metastatic disease when first diagnosed. Breast cancer also can come back in a part of the body away from the breast. This is called metastatic recurrence.
“Even though this group of patients with metastatic breast cancer is increasing in size, our findings are favorable,” said Angela Mariotto, Ph.D., chief of the Data Analytics Branch of the Division of Cancer Control and Populations Sciences at the NCI. “This is because, over time, these women are living longer with metastatic breast cancer. Longer survival with metastatic breast cancer means increased needs for services and research. Our study helps to document this need.”
The study compared 5-year survival rates from 1992 to 1994 and from 2005 to 2012:
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Ovarian Ablation Or Suppression
In women who have not yet experienced the menopause, oestrogen is produced by the ovaries.
Ovarian ablation or suppression stops the ovaries working and producing oestrogen.
Ablation can be done using surgery or radiotherapy. It permanently stops the ovaries from working and means youâll experience the menopause early.
Ovarian suppression involves using a medicine called goserelin, which is a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonist .
Your periods will stop while youâre taking it, although they should start again once your treatment is complete.
If youâre approaching the menopause , your periods may not start again after you stop taking goserelin.
Goserelin comes as an injection you have once a month.
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Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Curable
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.
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Does A Benign Breast Condition Mean That I Have A Higher Risk Of Getting Breast Cancer
Benign breast conditions rarely increase your risk of breast cancer. Some women have biopsies that show a condition called hyperplasia . This condition increases your risk only slightly.
When the biopsy shows hyperplasia and abnormal cells, which is a condition called atypical hyperplasia, your risk of breast cancer increases somewhat more. Atypical hyperplasia occurs in about 5% of benign breast biopsies.
How Do Tamoxifen Raloxifene Anastrozole And Exemestane Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer
If you are at increased risk for developing breast cancer, four medications tamoxifen , raloxifene , anastrozole , and exemestane may help reduce your risk of developing this disease. These medications act only to reduce the risk of a specific type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. This type of breast cancer accounts for about two-thirds of all breast cancers.
Tamoxifen and raloxifene are in a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators . These drugs work by blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue by attaching to estrogen receptors in breast cells. Because SERMs bind to receptors, estrogen is blocked from binding. Estrogen is the fuel that makes most breast cancer cells grow. Blocking estrogen prevents estrogen from triggering the development of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.
Anastrozole and exemestane are in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors . These drugs work by blocking the production of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase, which is needed to make estrogen.
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What Is The Life Expectancy For Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Stage 4 breast cancer life expectancy can vary depending on several factors. The following factors can affect your life expectancy with metastatic breast cancer:
- Amount of hormone receptors and HER2 receptors on cancerous cells
- Tissues that the cancer has affected
There is still not a clear answer for how long can you live with stage 4 breast cancer because it can vary greatly from patient to patient. Other factors such as past and current treatments being used also can have an effect on the life expectancy for patients.
How Long Can You Live After Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
When assessing the outlook of cancer, doctors use a measurement called the 5-year survival rate.
The 5-year cancer survival rate is a comparison based on the overall population. For example, if your cancer has a 90 percent 5-year survival rate, that means youre 90 percent as likely as someone without cancer to live for at least 5 years after your diagnosis.
To determine 5-year survival rates, the
that looks at several factors when staging cancer:
- T the size of the tumor given as a score from 0 to 4
- N the spread to lymph nodes given as a score from 0 to 3
- M the presence of metastasis given as a score that is either 0 or 1
- ER the estrogen receptor status
- PR the progesterone receptor status
- HER2 whether the cancer makes a certain amount of the protein HER2
- G the grade of cancer, or how closely the cancer cells resemble normal cells
Doctors assess all this information and assign a stage ranging from l to lV . The lower the number, the less advanced the cancer is, and the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.
Doctors use the term cured when theres no longer any sign of your cancer 5 years after your diagnosis. For many cancers, the chance of a recurrence at this stage is very low.
However, a future relapse is still possible since cancer cells can remain in the body for many years.
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Life After Breast Cancer Treatment
Youre finally done with your breast cancer treatment. Its a relief and a time to rejoice. You may expect your life to go back to the way it was before, but instead of returning to your old normal, you may have to adjust to a new one.
With todays advanced treatment and early detection, breast cancer survivors can live a long and full life after breast cancer treatment. Its estimated that there are 3.9 million breast cancer survivors in the US.
Whether you had surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy, though, your body still needs time to heal.
Understanding Breast Cancer Survival Rates
Prognosis varies by stage of breast cancer.
Non-invasive and early stage invasive breast cancers have a better prognosis than later stage cancers .
Breast cancer thats only in the breast and has not spread to the lymph nodes has a better prognosis than breast cancer thats spread to the lymph nodes.
The poorest prognosis is for metastatic breast cancer , when the cancer has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
Learn more about breast cancer treatment.
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