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Signs Of Breast Cancer Metastasis

Life Expectancy For Brain Metastases

What Is Metastatic Breast Cancer?

Life expectancy in patients with brain metastases depends upon the variety of factors. It depends upon the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. It also depends upon the type of primary cancer and its spread in other body parts. The life expectancy also depends upon the number of brain metastatic sites.

The complications related to brain metastases further depends upon the neurological damage due to tumor. Although various treatments are available for the management of brain metastases but none of the treatment completely cure the disease due to various reasons. Chemotherapy is rarely effective due to the fact that most of the chemotherapeutic drugs unable to cross the blood brain barrier at required concentration. Surgery of brain tumor is highly complicated and requires precision. Also, the patient and relative fears with surgery due to significant risk involved. Even if the risk of brain surgery is taken, most of the times the tumor cannot be completely removed due to its inaccessibility.

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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.

Other Symptoms And Signs Of Metastasis

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom, in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If the doctor diagnoses metastatic breast cancer, relieving symptoms remains an important part of care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called “palliative care” or “supportive care.” It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.

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Breast Cancer Metastasis To Liver

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.

Can Metastatic Breast Cancer Be Cured

Metastatic Sites and Symptoms of ILC

There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. Once the cancer cells have spread to another distant area of the body, its impossible to get rid of them all. However, the right treatment plan can help extend your life and improve its quality.

Metastatic breast cancer treatment aims to shrink tumors, slow their growth and improve your symptoms.

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Why Does My Provider Need To Test The Metastatic Tumor

Your care team will test the metastases to figure out the biology of the tumor, which can help guide your treatment plan. Providers may test tumors for:

  • Hormone receptor status: If the cancer is hormone receptor-positive, hormonal therapy may be your first treatment.
  • HER2 status: Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is a protein that is overexpressed on some breast cancer cells. HER2-positive cancer responds to specific HER2-targeted therapies.
  • PIK3CA gene mutation: If a tumor is hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative, your provider may test for this gene mutation. Specific targeted therapies can be used to treat tumors with this mutation.
  • PD-L1 status: Tumors that are hormone receptive-negative and HER2-negative may be tested for PD-L1 status. If the PD-L1 test is positive, you may be recommended to receive a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Metastasis To Liver

Metastatic breast cancer may grow silently in the body while you are completely unaware. Early on in metastatic liver cancer there might not be any signs or symptoms to alert you. As the cancer grows, you may experience liver swelling. This may cause the following symptoms:

  • Bloating of your abdomen
  • Mass on upper right abdomen
  • Fever, chills, sweats
  • Confused thinking

Knowing the early symptoms can help you find and treat breast cancer that has metastasized to the liver early on and slow the progression of the disease.

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Whats The Difference Between Metastatic And Recurring Breast Cancer

Recurrent cancer is cancer that comes back after your initial treatment. This can happen when treatment doesnt completely destroy all of the cancer cells in a tumor. As time passes, these remaining cancer cells can begin to grow into detectable tumors.

Like metastasis, recurrence can happen with almost every type of cancer. As well see below, some types of recurrent cancer can happen distantly and therefore also fall under the umbrella of metastatic cancer.

Breast cancer may recur locally, regionally, or distantly:

  • Local recurring breast cancer occurs when a new tumor develops in the breast that was originally affected. If the breast has been removed, the tumor may grow in the chest wall or nearby skin.
  • Regional recurring breast cancer happens in the same region as the original cancer. In the case of breast cancer, this may be the lymph nodes above the collarbone or in the armpit.
  • Distant recurring breast cancer happens when cancer cells travel to a different part of the body. This new location is far away from the original cancer. When cancer recurs distantly, its considered metastatic cancer.

, the most common metastasis locations for breast cancer are the:

  • bones
  • liver
  • brain

The frequency that breast cancer metastasizes to each of these sites can vary based off of the population studied. A in Scientific Reports included a group of 4,932 people with metastatic breast cancer. Researchers determined the metastatic site for each person and found that:

How Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Treated

Quick Guide on Symptoms of Bone Metastases for Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivors

The main treatment for metastatic breast cancer is systemic therapy. These therapies treat the entire body. Systemic treatments may include a combination of:

Your care team will plan your treatment based on:

  • Body parts cancer has reached.
  • Past breast cancer treatments.
  • Tumor biology, or how the cancer cells look and behave.

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What Is Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells spread. In the case of metastatic breast cancer, the cancer originated in breast tissue, then spread to other parts of the body.

Metastatic cancer is further described as local, regional or distant, depending on the location of the cancer cells in relation to the original tumor.

  • Localized metastatic breast cancer often means the breast cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • The more distant locations include the bones, lungs, skin, liver and brain, although its possible for other parts of the body to be affected.

Its important to remember that every cancer is unique and that your experience may not necessarily be the same as that of another breast cancer patient. With a personalized treatment plan, metastatic breast cancer is typically treatable. A recent National Cancer Institute study found that the number of U.S. women living longer with distant metastatic breast cancer is growing, thanks to advances in treatments.

Its also important to prepare yourself with information about the disease, its symptoms and how its detected and treated.

This article will cover:

What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Metastatic Breast Cancer

If youve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, ask your provider:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What is my prognosis?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • Will complementary therapy help me feel better?
  • What if I want to stop treatment?
  • How can I feel my best during treatment?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Metastatic breast cancer is advanced breast cancer. Providers classify it as stage 4 breast cancer. It happens when cancer cells, often left behind after previous breast cancer treatment, start to spread to other parts of the body. While there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, treatment can prolong your life and help you feel better. There are many medications available, so if one treatment isnt working, your care team can try a different approach. If you notice any symptoms or dont feel your best, especially if youve undergone breast cancer treatment in the past, talk to your healthcare provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/14/2021.

References

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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

What Are The Signs That Breast Cancer Has Spread

Cancerâs Spread to Bone

Metastatic breast cancer is a secondary cancer the cancerous cells originate in breast tissue and then travel to other parts of the body. The most common areas of breast cancer metastasis are the bones, lungs and liver.

Following an initial breast cancer diagnosis, a patient will receive a personalized monitoring plan for metastatic reoccurrence from their care team. Depending on the specific parts of the body affected, the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary.

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Whats The Outlook For Metastatic Breast Cancer

The right treatment plan can improve survival for people with metastatic breast cancer. However, survival rates vary and are dependent on a number of factors including type/biology of the breast cancer, parts of the body involved and individual characteristics. About 1 in 3 women live at least five years after diagnosis. Some live 10 years or longer. Your care team will discuss your prognosis with you in more detail.

Outlook Once Cancer Has Spread To The Bones

The research on cancer metastasis is rapidly growing. As researchers better understand the mechanisms of bone metastasis, new drugs and other treatments are being developed. These target particular processes in cells involved in how the cancer cells invade and grow in bones.

The use of nanoparticles to deliver drugs is very encouraging. These tiny particles are able to deliver drugs to the bone with minimal toxicity to the person with cancer.

Rapidly treating bone metastasis can lead to a

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What Are The Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer

Possible symptoms of metastatic breast cancer are listed below. Every womans experience of metastatic breast cancer is different. Symptoms depend on what part of the body is affected. They may develop over weeks or months.Its unlikely that a woman will have all of the symptoms listed below. Some symptoms may not be due to metastatic breast cancer at all.

Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Bone Metastasis

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A sudden, noticeable new pain is the most common symptom of breast cancer that has spread to the bone. The pain may come and go at first but can become constant over time. It can be hard to tell the difference between bone metastasis pain and arthritis pain or exercise strain. If the pain feels just as bad or even worse when you rest or lie down, it can be a sign of a problem. Its a good idea to see your doctor right away if it is bone metastasis, prompt treatment can prevent a fracture down the road.

Complications of bone metastasis are called skeletal-related events and can include the following:

Your doctor also may order a blood test to check for high levels of calcium or alkaline phosphatase , another substance that can be elevated because of bone metastasis.

In some cases, doctors may need to perform a biopsy to confirm a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Using CT scans, a doctor can guide a small needle into the suspicious area and remove a sample of tissue to be examined in the lab.

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Treatment For Metastatic 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.

Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer

The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer may be different than those of early-stage breast cancer, but not always. Sometimes, there are no symptoms at all.

You should always speak with your doctor if you experience any new signs or symptoms, but here are some of the most common signs that breast cancer has spread:

  • Bone pain or bone fractures due to tumor cells spreading to the bones or spinal cord
  • Headaches or dizziness when cancer has spread to the brain
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain, caused by lung cancer
  • Jaundice or stomach swelling

The symptoms of breast cancer metastasis may also vary depending on where in the body the cancer has spread. For example:

  • If the breast or chest wall is affected, symptoms may include pain, nipple discharge, or a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm.
  • If the cancer has spread to bones, symptoms may include pain, fractures or decreased alertness due to high calcium levels.
  • If the cancer has spread to the lungs, symptoms may include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain or fatigue.
  • If the cancer has spread to the liver, symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, swelling of the feet and hands or yellowing skin.
  • If cancer has spread to the central nervous system, which includes the brain or spinal cord, symptoms may include pain, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with and/or movement or seizures.

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Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer

An advanced breast cancer diagnosis often elicits a flood of emotions: fear, confusion, sadness, anger and worry. You may wonder, Why me? You may think its unfair that this has happened to you. All of these emotions and feelings are normal, so take the time to process your thoughts, speak with your care team to understand your diagnosis, and connect with loved ones and close friends for support.

Over time, as the shock wears off, many patients find that they get on with their lives, adjusting to what some call their new normal. You may continue to work, enjoy life and spend time with family and friends, even if sometimes you have less energy than before.

Try to eat a nutritious diet to feel stronger and better tolerate treatments. Maintaining good nutrition may also help lower your risk of infection and provide you with more energy for enjoying life.

Light exercise may give your mind and body’s boost, helping you feel energized, especially if you spend time in the fresh air. Always seek medical advice before making any changes to your diet or exercise routines.

Common Signs Of Breast Cancer Metastasis

Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread from the breast area to other organs in the body, including the bones, lungs, liver or brain. Even though the cancer extends to different parts of the body, the cancer is still treated as breast cancer because the cancer cells originated in the breast region. Known as Stage 4 breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced form of breast cancer and does not represent a specific type. According to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, it is approximated that more than 154,000 women in the United States have metastatic breast cancer.

No woman wants to hear that she has breast cancer, so its important to be aware of the warning signs that can indicate metastatic breast cancer. Its also important to receive routine mammograms and breast screenings, so your doctor can monitor your breast health. The symptoms for metastatic breast cancer can vary depending on where the cancer has spread, and on the individual. Many people may experience no apparent warning signs of metastatic cancer.

If you notice any of these warning signs, contact your doctor at Regional Cancer Care Associates immediately for an examination.

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