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Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Stage 4

Are There Any Statistics On Recurrence Rates Or Incidence Of Metastasis

Local mom with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer defying odds and cycling on

As mentioned, it is very difficult to find statistics on metastatic breast cancer that has recurred after initial diagnosis. However, these cases represent a large proportion of Stage IV breast cancer cases and overall deaths.

Most of the statistical data on Stage IV or metastatic breast cancer is from those women presenting at diagnosis. According to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network in 2012 new cases of Stage IV breast cancer were between 13,776 to 22,096.

The number of breast cancer recurrences at Stage IV is estimated to be between 20% and 30% of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Treatment For Metastatic Cancer

There are treatments for most types of metastatic cancer. Often, the goal of treating metastatic cancer is to control it by stopping or slowing its growth. Some people can live for years with metastatic cancer that is well controlled. Other treatments may improve the quality of life by relieving symptoms. This type of care is called palliative care. It can be given at any point during treatment for cancer.

The treatment that you may have depends on your type of primary cancer, where it has spread, treatments youve had in the past, and your general health. To learn about treatment options, including clinical trials, find your type of cancer among the PDQ® Cancer Information Summaries for Adult Treatment and Pediatric Treatment.

Symptoms Of Metastatic Cancer

Metastatic cancer does not always cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, what they are like and how often you have them will depend on the size and location of the metastatic tumors. Some common signs of metastatic cancer include:

  • pain and fractures, when cancer has spread to the bone
  • headache, seizures, or dizziness, when cancer has spread to the brain
  • shortness of breath, when cancer has spread to the lung
  • jaundice or swelling in the belly, when cancer has spread to the liver

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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.

When Metastatic Cancer Can No Longer Be Controlled

Breast Cancer

If you have been told your cancer can no longer be controlled, you and your loved ones may want to discuss end-of-life care. Whether or not you choose to continue treatment to shrink the cancer or control its growth, you can always receive palliative care to control the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. Information on coping with and planning for end-of-life care is available in the Advanced Cancer section of this site.

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Latecia Spencer Brain Cancer

Latecia Spencer Nov 2008 Mother 5 children husband walked out on her when he found out she had brain cancer. BUDWIG CENTER provided herbs and the full Budwig program and support at no cost to Latecia.

On Saturday, Sept 19th, 2009 Latecia wrote: Hellloooo Mr. Jenkins, so good to hear from you, Mr Loyd. I would love to help get the word out the budwig diet, and how wonderful you have been to me. I have lost 75 pounds, I feeeeel grrreat! I even love to drink the kraut juice now. the kids think its gross. lol. my last scans look amazing. no brain tumors!!! and no signs of tumors in the body. so Im just taking one day at a time, and LOVING LIFE A D MY BABIES!!! thank you for everything. ill get a pic from you soon. Many blessings.

Thank u for everything. Latecia

How Breast Cancer Spreads

Cancer cells can travel from your breast to other organs through your lymph system or bloodstream. Often, breast cancer spreads when it gets into the lymph nodes under your arms . From there, it enters the lymphatic system, a collection of nodes and vessels that are part of your body’s immune system.

Once the cancer has reached other organs, it forms new tumors.

Metastatic breast cancer can also start months or years after you’ve finished treatment for an earlier-stage cancer. This is called a distant recurrence.

Treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are good at removing or killing cancer cells. But sometimes, they can leave a few cancer cells behind. Even a single cancer cell can grow into a new tumor that spreads to other parts of your body.

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Strategies To Improve Autologous Stem Cell Transplant:

The main reason patients with breast cancer fail treatment is relapse. Relapse of breast cancer occurs because the high-dose chemotherapy is either unable to kill all the cancer cells in the patient and/or because cancer cells contaminating the stem cells are infused back into the patient. The majority of relapses occur because all the cancer cells were not destroyed by the high-dose chemotherapy treatment. However, some relapses may be due to infusion of breast cancer contaminated stem cells. Doctors are performing clinical trials designed to improve the treatment of breast cancer with high-dose chemotherapy that include the following approaches alone or in combination:

Increased Treatment before High-Dose Chemotherapy: One strategy to improve outcomes is to increase the effectiveness of induction therapy so that patients have significant reduction in the number of malignant cells in the body before high-dose chemotherapy.

**Increased Dose Intensity:**Since more treatment kills more cancer cells, increasing the intensity of treatment delivered to the cancer cells by utilizing high doses of anti-cancer therapies or by delivering multiple cycles of high-dose therapy is one strategy to improve cure rates. While increasing the intensity of treatment may kill more cancer cells, this approach may also damage normal cells and increase the toxicity or side effects of therapy.

Treatment For Metastatic Breast Cancer

Treatment Options for Metastatic or Stage IV (4) Breast Cancer

There are a number of different approaches to treating metastatic breast cancer. Every cancer is unique and treatment can be tailored to your specific circumstances.

Doctors usually treat metastatic breast cancer in any part of the body with systemic medications, 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.

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.

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Tips For Coping With Stage 4 Breast Cancer

If you have recently been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, it can be difficult to swallow and cope with the news. Below, I have some tips that may help you cope with this stage of breast cancer:

Join an Online Community

Joining an online community with other people who have stage 4 cancer can be supportive. It is a place where you can ask questions to people who were going through similar treatments and even having similar thoughts and worries. These people do not know you personally so you can be as open as you want.

Be Careful What You Read on the Internet

Only research from reputable sources. There is so much information on the internet, and most of it does not all happen to be true. Use websites that have done their research, even though a lot of sources on the internet can be helpful if the information you are reading is untrue it could cause distress.

Remember Everyone Is Different

Even though in essence it is the same disease, it has different variants which will lead to different treatment, different side effects, and different outcomes.

Speak to Family and Friends

Speaking about your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment may help, dont feel as though you have to bottle everything up. But you dont have to tell them everything, and you will know how much you want people to know so dont feel under pressure to disclose things you dont want to.

Seek Professional Help

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.

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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.

Survival Rates For Stage Iv Breast Cancer

Metastatic Breast Cancer

Stage of breast cancer at diagnosis is one of the most important prognostic factors. Above is a bar chart from the National Cancer Institute statistics for 2012. As we can see, the 5-year survival rate for women diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer was 22%.

Remember, these figures are still quite dated as it takes 5 years to determine survival rates and treatment is improving all the time.

A recent study found that 37% of women survived for three years after a Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis, although some women do survive longer.

However, although the 5-year survival rates are much higher for earlier stages of breast cancer at diagnosis, there is no predicting which cases will progress to metastatic breast cancer in the future.

Although it is important to be realistic regarding the survival of metastatic breast cancer, each individual situation is unique and ultimately, statistics are meaningless.

There is a small subcategory of people with Stage IV breast cancer who beat the odds and live for years. However, it is difficult to predict who will fall into this group.

All that is known is that people in this group have secondary spread to the bones. Furthermore, cancer is often estrogen positive and responds to hormone treatments.

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Quick Guide On Mbc Symptoms And Side Effects: Diarrhea And Constipation

This video covers the side effect of diarrhea and constipation that Metastatic Breast Cancer patients may experience. It includes tips to alleviate discomfort of diarrhea and constipation, how to cope with diarrhea and constipation, and when to talk to your health care team about diarrhea and constipation.

Diagnosis And Treatment Planning

A complete diagnosis usually takes more than one doctors visit. It may involve scans, blood tests, and a biopsy. Your doctor will work with a team to figure out:

  • If you have breast cancer or another kind of cancer
  • The type and subtype of breast cancer
  • The places in your body it has spread

If you had breast cancer in the past, your doctor will confirm whether it is the same type of breast cancer as before. Breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body is still breast cancer. The site where the cancer is found may affect your treatment options.

Treatment Planning

The process of learning about treatment options and choosing one is called treatment planning. You will be asked to make choices at the start of treatment and again along the way. Here are some steps you can take to feel more in control and better able to make decisions that are right for you.

Look for a doctor with expertise in metastatic breast cancer. Consider communication style, approach to treatment, location, insurance, and the availability of clinical trials, among other factors.

Keep a list of questions. Ask about the best way to get answers to your questions. Bring a friend or family member to visits to listen and take notes. Tell your team about any symptoms or side effects.

Getting a Second Opinion

Learn more about the steps you can take to get a second opinion downloading our Metastatic Breast Cancer book.

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I Have To Prioritize And Try Not To Sweat The Small Stuff

For Sendelbach, each week begins with a list of her priorities. Obviously, getting to my doctors appointments is very important, she says. But if the clothes arent folded, is that a dire situation? Absolutely not!

Sendelbach has learned to make compromises: If her husband and son have to pick up their clean clothes from the couch, she can live with that.

I have learned, she says, to look at every situation and ask if this is going to truly make a difference in my day or my familys day for better or worse. If the answer is no, then that task might be left undone.

It wasnt always this way for Sendelbach, though. When she was first diagnosed with cancer, her son was just a year old and she had been married for only two and a half years. You know how it is when you first have a baby if everything isnt perfect, then the world is falling apart! she laughs. Now, to us we ate, were all still alive, the house is acceptable if were good, its all okay.

Hormone Receptornegative Breast Cancer

Mistletoe Patient Perspective – The Davis Family – Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer

The treatment for hormone receptornegative breast cancer is systemic therapy with chemotherapy and/or immunothereapy. Patients with breast cancer that does not have estrogen/progesterone receptors, those not responding to hormonal treatment, and individuals requiring symptomatic relief from progressive breast cancer may benefit from treatment with chemotherapy.

There are currently several standard chemotherapy drugs and treatment regimens available, and approximately 25% of patients who undergo chemotherapy will experience a complete remission of their cancer. Patients should discuss their goals of treatment with their physician and consider participation in a clinical study as their initial treatment.

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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.

Treatment For Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Breast cancer treatment will differ depending on the type of breast cancer, where it has been discovered, the size of tumors and even the number of tumors.

The medical team will look at past treatments the patient has had, symptoms they might be suffering from and their general health to determine the new type of treatment.

While stage 4 breast cancer is no longer curable it is treatable and manageable which is the aim of the various treatments. A treatment plan will be put in place to control and slow down the spread of the cancer, relieve symptoms and maintain health and well-being to give the best quality of life.

Treatment could be given in a combination of ways, and if one doesnt or stops working, then there are others that can be looked at.


It might be possible to operate and remove the new tumors or reduce them in size.


Radiotherapy can be given to help reduce the pain and other symptoms when the cancer has spread to the bones or brain as it can be targeted to the area that the cancer has spread to.


Type of chemotherapy, frequency, and dosage can all vary depending on the type of breast cancer. Intravenous chemotherapy can be given the same as with primary breast cancer.

Some people may require chemotherapy for life which is likely to be in a tablet form and not have as harsh side effects as intravenous chemotherapies.

Hormone Therapy

Drugs have been developed to reduce the amount of hormones in the body.

Targeted Therapy

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Mechanisms Of Breast Cancer Metastasis

No one really knows what factors will make a certain patient more or less susceptible to breast cancer metastasis.

There is growing awareness that part of that susceptibility is due to host factors. The host factors are the characteristics of the non-malignant cells and the general biological environment surrounding the malignant breast tumor.

Sometimes the host factors are referred to as the pre-metastatic niche and it is thought that bone-marrow-derived progenitor cells may directly influence the dissemination of malignant cells to distant areas.

Non-neoplastichost cells within the tumor may also play a key role in the regulation of breast cancer metastasis.

Finding Social And Emotional Support

Definition of stage IV breast cancer

Its critical to find a strong source of social support, whether its your friends and family, or a support group with other people with breast cancer. While the journey is challenging, you dont have to navigate stage 4 breast cancer alone.

Ask your healthcare provider if theres an in-person support group where you receive treatments. You can also find online and social media groups to join.

Your healthcare provider can also provide more information about the specifics of your cancer, treatment options, and support programs in your area. If youre not sure where to look for an in-person group, a counselor or social worker can also help.

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