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How To Treat Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Success Story: How I Healed Stage 4 Breast Cancer With Integrative Medicine

What Are the Treatment Options for Stage 4 Breast Cancer?

It is now almost three years since my initial diagnosis and the cancer is fading away I can no longer feel the lump in my breast or lymph nodes

Normally, the way we treat cancer in North America is with some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. My oncologist, and the nurses in the cancer unit where I go for my chemotherapy, never mentioned the importance of diet or other complementary modalities. Indeed, volunteers serve cookies and fruit juice to cancer patients while they are having their chemo IVs .

The following represents my personal understanding of how to recover from cancer. This can be done in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy. I give no advice on these three modalities as I am not a medical doctor and believe we all need to do our own research and decide what is best for each of us.

I decided not to have radiation therapy, and in my case because of the metastasis it was also not the best option for me.

The lump in my breast was too large for a lumpectomy and I opted not to have a mastectomy even though that is what my surgeon recommended. I didnt want any complications, like lymphedema .

I reluctantly opted for chemotherapy as my cancer had metastasized and I believed I needed more aggressive treatment to kill the cancer cells in my body.

The UV light device used by Magda Havas is called SolRx E-Series, model E720M & E720A


  • Staging And Grading For Stage 4 Cancer

    Most cancers are staged using some form of the TNM system. Doctors may also use the TNM system to help determine the extent of certain cancers in each stage. The TNM system stands for:

    • T , or the size of the original tumor
    • N , or whether the cancer is present in the lymph nodes
    • M , or whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

    Not all cancers are staged using the TNM system, though. Some cancers, especially liquid cancers, are staged through different established protocols. The Binet and Rai systems, for example, are used to stage certain types of leukemia. Female reproductive system cancers, such as cervical cancer, are staged with a separate staging system created by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics .

    As your care team gathers information about your cancer for the purposes of staging, they may need to order several tests, including:

    Your care team may likely also need to perform a biopsy, a procedure that involves removing a sample of cells and analyzing it for signs of cancer. Imaging scans may be able to tell your care team where your cancer is, but looking at the cancer cells specifically tell them how fast they are likely to growor what grade they are.

    Grading is different from staging and is done for most, but not all, cancers.

    The grade of your cancer is part of how your cancer care team stages your cancer and determines your prognosis, or outlook.

    What Is Stage 4 Cancer

    Stage 4 cancer is sometimes referred to as metastatic cancer, because it often means the cancer has spread from its origin to distant parts of the body. This stage may be diagnosed years after the initial cancer diagnosis and/or after the primary cancer has been treated or removed.

    When a cancer metastasizes to a different part of the body, it is still defined by its original location. For instance, if breast cancer metastasizes to the brain, it is still considered breast cancer, not brain cancer. Many stage 4 cancers have subcategories, such as stage 4A or stage 4B, which are often determined by the degree to which the cancer has spread throughout the body. Similarly, stage 4 cancers that are adenocarcinomas are often referred to as metastatic adenocarcinomas.

    Liquid cancers, or blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma, are staged differently than most other cancers because they may not always form solid tumors. Liquid cancers may be staged by a variety of factors, including:

    • The ratio of healthy blood cells to cancerous cells
    • The degree to which lymph nodes, the liver or spleen may be swollen
    • Whether the cancer has resulted in blood disorders such as anemia

    Stage 4 cancer is determined in the five most common cancers this way:

    Read Also: Estrogen Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Stage Iv Vs Metastatic

    Stage IV describes invasive breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to parts of the body away from the breast, such as the lungs, bones, liver, or brain. If breast cancer is stage IV at first diagnosis, its called de novo by doctors. About 6% of breast cancers are de novo.

    Metastatic and advanced-stage are other terms used to describe stage IV breast cancer.

    Still, certain groups make a distinction between stage IV breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute both say that a cancers stage doesnt change after a diagnosis. So, if a person is diagnosed with stage II breast cancer and then a few years later the cancer comes back in the bones, the diagnosis is technically stage II breast cancer with metastatic recurrence to the bones.

    But this is not how most people or even most oncologists talk and think about cancer. When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer that comes back in a part of the body away from the breast, people and doctors usually consider that cancer to be stage IV/metastatic.

    The ACS and NCI say that a cancers stage doesnt change when there is recurrence so they can compile statistics on cancer outcomes. These organizations follow people over time and keep track of:

    • the number of people diagnosed with a particular stage of cancer who have a recurrence
    • the type of recurrence

    Treatment For Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Breast Cancer Symptoms Review: 2017

    If youve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, its important to know there are a number of different treatment options for you and your doctors to consider. Most treatment decisions depend on where in the body the cancer has spread, the cancers characteristics , and any cancer treatments youve had in the past.

    Doctors usually treat metastatic breast cancer in any part of the body with systemic medicines, which treat cancer throughout the entire body. Chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy are all systemic medications. Local treatments that target a specific part of the body, such as surgery or radiation, are sometimes recommended.

    You and your doctor need to be in agreement about the approach to your care. Its up to you whether or not you want to try a recommended treatment, especially if various treatment options are available to you. For example, your doctor may recommend a treatment that is given more frequently or one that may have more severe side effects than another treatment.

    Remember that you can change your mind about your treatment choices. You may want to alter your treatment plan depending on how its affecting your daily life, family, or finances. Your treatment plan isnt written in stone. You can talk to your doctor about changing your treatment approach at any time.

    Recommended Reading: What Percentage Of Breast Biopsies Turn To Cancer

    Local Or Regional Treatments For Stage Iv Breast Cancer

    Although systemic drugs are the main treatment for stage IV breast cancer, local and regional treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy, or regional chemotherapy are sometimes used as well. These can help treat breast cancer in a specific part of the body, but they are very unlikely to get rid of all of the cancer. These treatments are more likely to be used to help prevent or treat symptoms or complications from the cancer.

    Radiation therapy and/or surgery may also be used in certain situations, such as:

    • When the breast tumor is causing an open or painful wound in the breast
    • To treat a small number of metastases in a certain area, such as the brain
    • To help prevent or treat bone fractures
    • When a cancer is pressing on the spinal cord
    • To treat a blood vessel blockage in the liver
    • To provide relief of pain or other symptoms anywhere in the body

    In some cases, regional chemo may be useful as well.

    If your doctor recommends such local or regional treatments, it is important that you understand the goalwhether it is to try to cure the cancer or to prevent or treat symptoms.

    The Risk Of Metastatic Breast Cancer

    If youve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, youre not alone. Its estimated there were more than 168,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. in 2020 . Men can also get metastatic breast cancer.

    The risk of metastasis after breast cancer treatment varies from person to person. It depends on:

    • The biology of the tumor
    • The stage at the time of the original diagnosis
    • The treatments for the original cancer

    Also Check: Stage 3a Cancer

    The Tnm Staging System

    The breast cancer staging system, called the TNM system, is overseen by the American Joint Committee on Cancer . The AJCC is a group of cancer experts who oversee how cancer is classified and communicated. This is to ensure that all doctors and treatment facilities are describing cancer in a uniform way so that the treatment results of all people can be compared and understood.

    In the past, stage number was calculated based on just three clinical characteristics, T, N, and M.

    The T category describes the original tumor:

    • HER2 status: are the cancer cells making too much of the HER2 protein?

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      Oncotype DX score, if the cancer is estrogen-receptor-positive, HER2-negative, and there is no cancer in the lymph nodes

    Adding information about tumor grade, hormone-receptor status, HER2 status, and possibly Oncotype DX test results has made determining the stage of a breast cancer more complex, but also more accurate.

    In general, according to experts, the new staging system classifies triple-negative breast cancer at a higher stage and classifies most hormone receptor-positive breast cancer at a lower stage.

    You also may see or hear certain words used to describe the stage of the breast cancer:

    • Distant: The cancer is found in other parts of the body as well.

    The updated AJCC breast cancer staging guidelines have made determining the stage of a cancer a more complicated but accurate process. So, the characteristics of each stage below are somewhat generalized.

    What Should A Person With Stage 4 Breast Cancer Expect From Treatment

    Stage Four Breast Cancer Treatment, Surgeons Perspective – Dr. Jay K. Harness

    Treatment options vary widely depending on where you live, your access to specialists and sub-specialists, and your willingness to try therapies that are still in the experimental phase.

    Seek out oncology specialists who specialize in Stage 4 breast cancer. Discuss with your treatment team what clinical trials may be available for your clinical situation.

    During this time, be sure to surround yourself with a support system of friends and family.

    Also Check: Can Breast Cancer Be Cured

    Where To Pursue Treatment In Israel

    Having discovered a few of the many advantages of getting stage IV breast cancer treatment in Israel, where exactly should you pursue it? Sheba Medical Center is an exceptional choice. One of the 10 best hospitals in the world according to Newsweek magazine, Sheba is dedicated to providing patients with world-class medical care.

    The advantages of receiving treatment at Sheba Medical Center include:

    Patients May Want To Think About Taking Part In A Clinical Trial

    For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

    Many of today’s standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

    Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.

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    Immunotherapy To Treat Metastatic Breast Cancer

    Cancer immunotherapy medicines work by helping your immune system work harder or more efficiently to fight cancer cells.

    Your immune system is made up of a number of organs, tissues, and cells that work together to protect you from foreign invaders that can cause disease. When a disease- or infection-causing agent, such as a bacterium, virus, or fungus, gets into your body, your immune system reacts and works to kill the invaders. This self-defense system works to keep you from getting sick.

    Immunotherapy uses substances either made naturally by your body or man-made in a lab to boost the immune system to:

    Learn more about immunotherapies used to treat metastatic breast cancer.

    Effect Of Local Surgery On Outcomes Of Stage Iv Breast Cancer


    Takahiro Tsukioki, Tadahiko Shien, Hiroyoshi Doihara

    Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery , , Japan

    Contributions: Conception and design: T Shien, T Tsukioki Administrative support: T Shien Provision of study materials or patients: T Shien Collection and assembly of data: T Shien, T Tsukioki Data analysis and interpretation: T Shien, T Tsukioki Manuscript writing: All authors Final approval of manuscript: All authors.

    Correspondence to:

    Keywords: Breast cancer metastatic stage IV local therapy locoregional therapy surgery survival

    Submitted Dec 23, 2019. Accepted for publication Jan 16, 2020.

    doi: 10.21037/tcr.2020.01.60

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    Inflammatory Breast Cancer Treatment

    Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon and aggressive type of breast cancer caused by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin.

    All IBC cases are classified as at least stage 3 breast cancer. If the cancer is metastatic , its considered stage 4.

    Treatments for IBC depend on what stage the cancer is in.

    Reasons To Choose Israel For Stage Iv Breast Cancer Treatment

    Breast cancer is the worlds most prevalent type of cancer, and in 2020 alone, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with the malignancy, which also caused 685,000 deaths globally.

    Breasts are made of many different types of tissues, including fatty tissue, glands, ducts, lobes, lobules, and lymph nodes. Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow and divide uncontrollably and eventually form a tumor. About 80% of all breast cancer cases start in the milk ducts , and about 10% of cases originate in the glands or lobes that produce milk .

    To help determine the prognosis and choose the best course of treatment, breast cancer cases are delineated into stages on a scale of 0 through IV. The stage of the malignancy is determined by the cancers characteristics, such as how large it is and whether or not it has hormone receptors:

    In most cases, when not detected or left untreated, breast cancer becomes invasive and spreads through the lining of the milk ducts into the surrounding breast tissue, which complicates treatment. In contrast, when the malignancy remains local and is detected early, the success rate of treatment is exceedingly high.

    While about 1 in 8 women worldwide develops breast cancer at one point in their lives, the fatality rates of the disease have been dropping steadily for the past 30 years. The driving force behind this positive trend is precise early screening techniques and innovative treatments.

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    Everolimus And Hormone Therapy

    Everolimus is an mTOR inhibitor. mTOR inhibitors are a class of drugs that may increase the benefit of hormone therapy.

    Everolimus is FDA-approved for the treatment of hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancers in postmenopausal women. The combination of everolimus and the aromatase inhibitor exemestane can slow the growth of such cancers better than exemestane alone .

    Everolimus is a pill.


    Some possible side effects include mouth ulcers, infections, rash, fatigue, diarrhea and decreased appetite.

    In rare cases, it can cause lung inflammation, which can cause death. Tell your health care provider right away if you have shortness of breath or other breathing problems while taking this drug.

    Adapted from select sources .

    How Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosed

    Stage Four Breast Cancer Treatment, Radiation Oncologist’s Perspective

    If you have symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, your provider may recommend tests including:

    • Blood tests, including complete blood count and comprehensive metabolic panel.
    • Imaging studies, including MRI, CT, bone scan and PET.
    • Bronchoscopy, which uses a scope to look inside your lungs this can be done if there is a concerning spot in the lungs.
    • Biopsy to remove tissue from a suspicious area and analyze it.
    • A tap to remove fluid from an area with symptoms. For example, pleural tap removes fluid from the lung area. Spinal tap removes fluid from the spinal cord area.

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    Research Into Advanced And Metastatic Breast Cancer

    As metastatic breast cancer remains the leading cause of death from breast cancer, NBCF is committed to funding a broad spectrum of research that helps to further understand breast cancer metastasis, develop improved treatment options and enhance patient quality of life for those with metastatic breast cancer.

    How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed

    During your regular physical examination, your doctor will take a thorough personal and family medical history. He or she will also perform and/or order one or more of the following:

    • Breast examination: During the breast exam, the doctor will carefully feel the lump and the tissue around it. Breast cancer usually feels different than benign lumps.
    • Digital mammography: An X-ray test of the breast can give important information about a breast lump. This is an X-ray image of the breast and is digitally recorded into a computer rather than on a film. This is generally the standard of care .
    • Ultrasonography: This test uses sound waves to detect the character of a breast lump whether it is a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass . This may be performed along with the mammogram.

    Based on the results of these tests, your doctor may or may not request a biopsy to get a sample of the breast mass cells or tissue. Biopsies are performed using surgery or needles.

    After the sample is removed, it is sent to a lab for testing. A pathologist a doctor who specializes in diagnosing abnormal tissue changes views the sample under a microscope and looks for abnormal cell shapes or growth patterns. When cancer is present, the pathologist can tell what kind of cancer it is and whether it has spread beyond the ducts or lobules .

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