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Is Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer Terminal

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For decades funding focused on prevention, awareness, and early detection.Unfortunately early detection and subsequent treatments do not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or many years after a persons original diagnosis. Less than 10% of all breast cancer research dollars goes towards Stage IV.

There has been no significant reduction in annual deaths from Metastatic Breast Cancer

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What Is Stage Iv Breast Cancer

Stage IV is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. It has spread to nearby lymph nodes and to distant parts of the body beyond the breast. This means it possibly involves your organs such as the lungs, liver, or brain or your bones.

Breast cancer may be stage IV when it is first diagnosed, or it can be a recurrence of a previous breast cancer that has spread.

Binet And Rai Systems

Binet and Rai are the staging systems used to specifically diagnose Chronic LymphocyticLeukemia , a non-tumorous cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Both of these systems use the patients white blood cell count to determine how far their cancer may have spread and what areas of the body are being affected.

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Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer

The symptoms of stage 4 breast cancer depend on the location of the cancer and where it has spread in your body.

  • If breast cancer has spread to your bones, you may notice a sudden new bone pain. Breast cancer most commonly spreads to your ribs, spine, pelvis, or arm and leg bones.
  • If it has spread to your brain, you may experience headaches, vision or speech changes, or memory problems.
  • Breast cancer that has spread to your lungs or liver usually causes no symptoms.

The main treatments for stage 4 breast cancer are targeted drug therapies that destroy cancer cells wherever they are in your body.

These treatments may include:

  • hormone therapy, which stops or slows the growth of tumors by preventing your body from producing hormones or interfering with the effect of hormones on breast cancer cells
  • chemotherapy, where drugs given orally or through an IV travel through your bloodstream to fight cancer cells
  • immunotherapy, which uses drugs that stimulate your immune system to destroy cancer cells
  • a combination of these therapies

In some cases, surgery or radiation therapy may be used to treat stage 4 breast cancer.

The following are the common treatment options for different types of stage 4 breast cancer.

What Are The Symptoms Of Metastatic Cancer

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The symptoms produced by metastatic breast cancer vary depending on the location of the metastases.

For example, metastatic disease to the bone causes severe, progressive pain, and less commonly, pathological fracture, erythema over the affected bone and swelling.

Breast cancer cells that have spread to the brain cause persistent, progressively worsening headache, visual changes, seizures, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, behavioral and personality changes and increased intracranial pressure.

Metastatic disease to the liver causes jaundice, elevated liver enzymes, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

Metastatic breast cancer to the lung or pleura causes chronic cough, dyspnea, abnormal chest x-ray, and chest pain.

In addition, general, non-specific systemic symptoms of metastatic breast cancer include fatigue, malaise, weight loss and poor appetite.

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

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.

What Is Stage 2 Breast Cancer

Also known as invasive breast cancer, the tumor in this stage measures between 2 cm to 5 cm, or the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side as the breast cancer. Stage 2 breast cancer indicates a slightly more advanced form of the disease. At this stage, the cancer cells have spread beyond the original location and into the surrounding breast tissue, and the tumor is larger than in stage 1 disease. However, stage 2 means the cancer has not spread to a distant part of the body.

At stage 2, a tumor may be detected during a breast self-exam as a hard lump within the breast. Breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis, when the cancer is most treatable.

Stage 2 breast cancer is divided into two categories:

Stage 2A: One of the following is true:

  • There is no tumor within the breast, but cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
  • The tumor in the breast is 2 cm or smaller and cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
  • The tumor in the breast measures 2 cm to 5 cm but cancer has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

Stage 2B: One of the following is true:

  • The tumor measures 2 cm to 5 cm and cancer has spread to the axillary lymph nodes, or
  • The tumor is larger than 5 cm but cancer has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes.

At stage 2, TNM designations help describe the extent of the disease. Most commonly, stage 2 breast cancer is described as:

Stage 2 breast cancer survival rate

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Are There Any Statistics On Recurrence Rates Or Incidence Of Metastasis

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.

What I Wish People Knew About Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Women with metastatic breast cancer think about fighting cancer very differently than women who don’t have a stage 4 diagnosis. If you have advanced cancer, these women understand what youre going through.

The term metastatic breast cancer describes breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to the bones, liver, brain, or another organ. Even if the cancer is found in another organ, its still referred to as breast cancer and is treated as such.

While metastatic breast cancer is terminal and cannot be cured, because of improved treatments more women are living longer than ever with it. Even so, a lack of information and many misconceptions about this diagnosis persist.

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Beating The Odds: Long

Doctors often give metastatic cancer patients an estimated survival time based on statistical averages, but some people have far outlived those predictions. How did they do it?

Join us as we bring together an oncology expert and a group of longtime metastatic cancer survivors to discuss how they beat the odds. From lifestyle choices and medical treatments to just plain luck, our guests share tips and strategies they feel contributed to their longevity. Youll also hear an experts recommendations for improving your life as a survivor.

As always, our guests answer questions from the audience.

Announcer:

Welcome to this HealthTalk webcast. Before we begin, we remind you that the opinions expressed on this webcast are solely the views of our guests. They are not necessarily the views of HealthTalk, our sponsors or any outside organization. And, as always, please consult your own physician for the medical advice most appropriate for you.

Now heres your host.

Kelly Guenther:

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer, you are probably all too familiar with those dreaded four words The cancer has spread. But as advances in cancer treatment continue, people with metastatic cancer are living for longer periods of time. Hello and welcome to this HealthTalk webcast, Beating the Odds: Long-Term Survival with Metastatic Cancer. Im your host and cancer survivor, Kelly Guenther.

Welcome, Deb.

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survivor Stories

Following are stories from two survivors of breast cancer, told in their own narrative.

“I am Kathy from Littleton, Colorado. I had been a successful hairstylist till the March of 2013. I was used to the occasional back ache as I did most of my work standing up, but one day the backache was so bad I had to go to the hospital to get some relief. After getting an MRI, I received the news that I had stage four breast cancer that had metastasized in my bones. My stage 4 breast cancer life expectancy was only two months. When looking for treatment, I found the University of Colorado Anchutz Cancer Center. For a year I went through chemotherapy once a week, three biopsies and three rounds of radiation. After two years, I am still battling my cancer while living a healthy life. My doctors call this a miracle as I go to the gym five days a week, work for various cancer awareness organizations and recently started a new business.”

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The Role Of Caregivers

Caregivers also play a vital role in helping a person with cancer be as comfortable as possible. To help, a caregiver can:

According to the American Society for Clinical Oncology, in 2018, doctors will diagnose invasive breast cancer in an estimated 268,670 people in the United States.

The ACS state that the 5-year relative survival rate for people with metastatic breast cancer is around 22 percent. This means that people with metastatic breast cancer are 22 percent as likely as people without the condition to live at least 5 years following diagnosis.

However, many factors can affect how long a person with metastatic breast cancer lives for, including:

  • the type of breast cancer
  • the stage of breast cancer
  • where the cancer has spread to
  • how well the cancer responds to treatment
  • any other health issues that the person has

EveryoneĆ¢s outlook is different. It is also important to note that survivals rates are just estimates, and that doctors base these figures on data from at least 5 years ago. Continuing advancements in cancer treatments means that survival rates are improving.

Types Of Breast Cancer

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There are several types of breast cancer, and any of them can metastasize. Most breast cancers start in the ducts or lobules and are called ductal carcinomas or lobular carcinomas:

  • Ductal carcinoma. These cancers start in the cells lining the milk ducts and make up the majority of breast cancers.
  • Lobular carcinoma. This is cancer that starts in the lobules, which are the small, tube-like structures that contain milk glands.

Less common types of breast cancer include:

  • Medullary

  • Metaplastic

  • Papillary

  • Inflammatory breast cancer is a faster-growing type of cancer that accounts for about 1% to 5% of all breast cancers.

  • Pagets disease is a type of cancer that begins in the ducts of the nipple.

Breast cancer can develop in women and men. However, breast cancer in men is rare. Less than 1% of all breast cancers develop in men.

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Support For Living With Secondary Breast Cancer In The Lung

Everyones experience of being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer is different, and people cope in their own way.

For many people, uncertainty can be the hardest part of living with secondary breast cancer.

You may find it helpful to talk to someone else whos had a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

You can also call Breast Cancer Nows Helpline free on 0808 800 6000.

What Treatments Are Used For Metastatic Cancer

Metastatic cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of these treatments.

The choice of treatment generally depends on the type of primary cancer the size, location, and the number of metastatic tumors. Also, the patients age and general health and the types of treatment the patient has had in the past.

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What Is Stage 0 Breast Cancer

Also called carcinoma in situ, stage 0 is the earliest breast cancer stage. At stage 0, the breast mass is noninvasive, and there is no indication that the tumor cells have spread to other parts of the breast or other parts of the body. Often, stage 0 is considered a precancerous condition that typically requires close observation, but not treatment.

Stage 0 breast cancer is difficult to detect. There may not be a lump that can be felt during a self-examination, and there may be no other symptoms. However, breast self-exams and routine screening are always important and can often lead to early diagnosis of breast cancer, when the cancer is most treatable. Stage 0 disease is most often found by accident during a breast biopsy for another reason, such as to investigate an unrelated breast lump.

There are two types of stage 0 breast cancer:

Ductal carcinoma in situ occurs when breast cancer cells develop in the breast ducts. Today, stage 0 DCIS is being diagnosed more often because more women are having routine mammogram screenings. DCIS can become invasive, so early treatment can be important.

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

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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.

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The Truth About Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer

The most advanced stage of any types of cancers is stage 4 metastatic cancer. Stage 4 cancer of any kind is hard to treat. This still means that there is a chance for curing. There are many clinical trials that are improving that contribute in the increase of survival rates of patients.

Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer

However, the improvement of prognosis depends on the treatment. How a patient responds to the treatment matters a lot. Having the right treatment is very important for survival.

Stage 4 metastatic cancer life expectancy is not good at all. It has the lowest percentage when it comes to the five-year survival rate. This is because the cancerous cells have already spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, the stage 4 metastatic cancer prognosis of patient is poor and not progressive. Lets take an example such as in stage 4 metastatic cancer liver. This is the condition wherein the cancer has spread from the liver to others parts of the body. This cancer of the liver which is already in its most advanced stage has originated from the lungs that spread to breast, pancreas, large intestines and stomach. This is a condition that may be difficult to cure. Another example is the stage 4 metastatic cancer spine is the cancer in the spine that has widely spread the cancer cells to the whole spine and to other parts of the body too.Treating this stage cancer very extensively is needed for patients to survive.

Coping With The Shock Of Diagnosis

A diagnosis of secondary breast cancer often comes as a very big shock.

In the days or weeks after your diagnosis, you may feel in turmoil and find it hard to think clearly.

You may experience many different emotions, including disbelief, denial, shock, anger, fear, numbness and helplessness. Your emotions may swing from one extreme to the other or change from one day to the next.

Many people go through this stage before reaching a point where theyre able to start taking some control of their situation. However difficult it may seem, you can have some control over how you manage the illness and deal with the emotional and practical issues it brings.

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