Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survival Rate
Overcoming the odds and living with MBC By Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, CCRC It is a sad fact of life that once a person reaches
We hear stage 4 breast cancer discussed in many terms from simply stage 4 to metastatic breast cancer to advanced breast cancer they all indicate that cancer that started in the breast has traveled to other parts of the body. Contrary to what many think, the primary tumor in the breast can be of any size it could be small but what defines stage 4 breast cancer is that it has traveled to other organs, distant lymph nodes, or the chest wall. Furthermore, MBC is not a specific type of breast cancer it only refers to the spread it can be any type of breast cancer.
While this type of cancer is most often seen in a progression from an earlier stage, aggressive cancers, in about 6% of all breast cancer cases, stage 4 is the initial diagnosis. This is also known as de novo metastatic disease, in contrast to disease that has progressed or recurred. The Komen center estimates that in 2020, the United States will have about 168,000 women living with MBC.
Mortality Rates Versus Number Of Breast Cancer Deaths
Sometimes its useful to have an estimate of the number of people expected to die from breast cancer in a year. This numbers helps show the burden of breast cancer in a group of people.
Numbers, however, can be hard to compare to each other. To compare mortality rates in different populations, we need to look at mortality rates rather than the number of breast cancer deaths.
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.
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If Im 70 Or Older Will Invasive Breast Cancer Be Fatal
Though a cancer diagnosis is scary at any age, older adults may feel more vulnerable. But Tran says there are reasons not to panic.
In patients 70 years old or older, most of the time, the invasive cancer is hormone receptor positive, which means it is a slower-growing cancer.
Most patients treated for invasive breast cancer survive, she says. Even when you are diagnosed at an older age, you can successfully complete your therapy, go on living and eventually die from causes other than breast cancer.
This is especially true for those who are in good general health at the time of their diagnosis and who are able to care for themselves.
Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Painful
Stage iv metastatic breast cancer can be painful for patients similar to other cancer types. Because the prognosis of metastatic cancer is often less favorable, many patients question is stage 4 breast cancer painful? It depends on several factors such as, where the cancer has and what type of cells are being affected. For example, if the cancer has spread to the bone, patients may experience persistent bone pain. Palliative treatments can be given to patients to help relieve symptoms such as pain. These treatments can include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or radiation therapy.
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What Is The Survival Rate Of Stage 4 Breast Cancer
The stage 4 breast cancer survival rate for 5 years is 28 percent. This rate is low comparing to the survival rate of all stages, which is nearly 90 percent. Because the survival rate is considerably higher in early stages of breast cancer, early detection is extremely important. Mammograms help detect breast cancer early before the disease has spread. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer type in women, so promoting awareness for early detection can make an impact.
The median survival rate of stage 4 breast cancer is three years. This means that after 3 years, 50 percent of patients are still alive. While this rate is for all stage 4 patients, the survival rate depends on several factors. For example, those with known biomarkers have access to new targeted drugs being developed in clinical trials for breast cancer patients of all stages. These new therapies are improving the outcomes of cancer patients, including those in stage 4.
Where Do These Numbers Come From
The American Cancer Society relies on information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.
The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for breast cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:
- Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast.
- Regional: The cancer has spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
- Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or bones.
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Cervical Cancer Survival Rates By Country
Cervical cancer is highly preventable if detected and treated before progression occurs. The main cause of cervical cancer is sexual exposure to human papilloma virus . About half of OECD countries have cervical screening programmes and around half have implemented HPV vaccination programmes.
In England, all girls aged 12 to 13 are offered the HPV vaccination, and from the 2019-20 school year the programme has been extended to all boys aged 12 to 13 years old. In recent years, uptake of the first dose of the vaccine has fluctuated around 89% and uptake of the second dose is slightly lower at around 84%.
International trends in five-year cervical cancer survival show more variation between countries over time than for five-year breast cancer survival. While survival has been improving in the UK, the country is still one of the worst performers compared with other OECD countries, with a five-year survival of only 63.8% in 2010-2014. This is despite relatively high cervical cancer screening coverage. In comparison, survival in Denmark in the same time period was 69.5% while survival in Japan reached 71.4%.
Survival Rates For Breast Cancer
Survival rates can give you an idea of what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time after they were diagnosed. They cant tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.
Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they cant predict what will happen in any particular persons case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk with your doctor, who is familiar with your situation, about how these numbers may apply to you.
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Prognosis For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer isnt the same for everyone who has it. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, your symptoms at stage 4 will depend on the degree to which the cancer has spread in your body.
Although metastatic breast cancer has no current cure, it can be treated. Getting the right treatment can increase both your quality of life and longevity.
Life expectancy for breast cancer is based on studies of many people with the condition. These statistics cant predict your personal outcome each persons outlook is different.
The following factors can affect your life expectancy with metastatic breast cancer:
Triple Negative Breast Cancer
With this type of breast cancer, the breast cancer cells dont have ER+ or PR+ receptors. They dont overproduce the HER2 protein, so hormone therapy isnt very effective.
Instead, triple negative stage 4 breast cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy may also be an option, depending on the site of metastasis.
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De Novo Metastatic Breast Cancer
This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by
Daniel Liu, MD, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, CTCA Chicago.
This page was reviewed on September 20, 2022.
Most cases of metastatic breast cancer develop from breast cancer that was treated at earlier stages. But about 6 percent of patients in the United States with newly diagnosed breast cancer have de novo metastatic breast cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
De novo metastatic breast cancer has already spread, or metastasized, to distant parts of the body by the time of diagnosis. As breast cancer screening and treatment have improved, the rate of people diagnosed with de novo metastatic breast cancer has declined.
Andrew And Traceys Story
All the statistics only talk about the number of women affected what they dont mention is the effect on the people that love them parents, children, siblings, extended family, friends. My wife, Tracey, was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2010 and was told it had spread to her liver and lung in 2012. Firstly, theres the pain that you have to watch your partner go through the ongoing pain from metastasis the spread of the cancer from her breasts to her spine, ribs, liver and lung. Secondly theres the fear. Fear of losing her sooner rather than later and being alone. Andrew, Husband of Tracey, diagnosed 2010.
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What Is Stage Ii Breast Cancer
Stage II describes cancer that is in a limited region of the breast but has grown larger. It reflects how many lymph nodes may contain cancer cells. This stage is divided into two subcategories.
Stage IIA is based on one of the following:
- Either there is no tumor in the breast or there is a breast tumor up to 20 millimeters , plus cancer has spread to the lymph nodes under the arm.
- A tumor of 20 to 50 millimeters is present in the breast, but cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage IIB is based on one of these criteria:
- A tumor of 20 to 50 millimeters is present in the breast, along with cancer that has spread to between one and three nearby lymph nodes.
- A tumor in the breast is larger than 50 millimeters, but cancer has not spread to any lymph nodes.
Diagnosis Of Stage 4 Breast Cancer
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you may have further tests to determine the extent that the cancer has spread throughout the body. This is called staging. It helps you and your doctors decide on the best treatment options for you.
In addition the numbered staging system, the TNM staging system is also commonly used for breast cancer staging.
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Coping With Stage 4 Breast Cancer
It is natural to feel depressed, anxious, or even angry when you have been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It can leave you feeling as if you have no control over your health or future. Moreover, you may find that certain people will withdraw from you or suggest that you have metastatic cancer because you “left it too long.”
It is important to shield yourself from these negative emotions and embrace people who can provide you with genuine support. These include loved ones, support groups, and your oncology team. If you are unable to cope, ask for a referral to a therapist who can provide you counseling or a psychiatrist able to dispense treatment.
With that being said, there are women who experience positive emotional growth after being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It is not uncommon to hear someone say that cancer helped prioritize their life, allowing them to pursue what is truly important and connect with people on a deeper, more profound level.
Whatever your experience, don’t go it alone. Seek support and work with your medical team as a full partner in your care.
How Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treated
The aim of treatment is to improve the quality and length of life of people with stage 4 breast cancer. Each person will be treated differently based on the disease characteristics and the intended goals of treatment.
Most treatments aim at decreasing the tumor burden and stabilizing the disease. In general, stage 4 cancer treatmentsalthough they may extend life in a significant number of peopleare considered palliative . This is because only a handful of people treated at this stage are cured of their disease.
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Clinical Data And Tumor Characteristics
The surgeon identifying the cases and constructing the database also collected data regarding date of diagnosis, menopausal status, height, weight, parity, laterality, tumor location, and distant metastases through medical records and the Swedish Cancer Registry. Information concerning tumor size, histological type, and ALNI was retrieved from histopathological examinations. Tumor type was classified using a modification of the World Health Organization classification as proposed by Linell et al. . ALNI was divided into positive, negative, or unknown if no axillary dissection had been performed.
For Family And Friends
Caring for a loved one with stage 4 breast cancer has special challenges as well. Fortunately, organizations such as CancerCare now offer support groups design for loved ones who are caring for someone with cancer. In addition to caring for yourself , it’s helpful to learn about metastatic breast cancer.
Common things that people learn about cancer usually refer to an early-stage disease, and myths about metastatic breast cancer can be painful for those living with advanced disease. For example, one of the things not to say to someone with metastatic breast cancer is, “When will you be done with treatment?”
For the most part, people with metastatic breast cancer will require some type of treatment for the rest of their lives.
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What Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast become abnormal and grow out of control.
What Are Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
The American Cancer Societys warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling or thickening of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of the breast skin
- Pain in any area of the breast
- Nipple turning inward
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
- Skin changes on the breast: redness, scaliness, flaky skin, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge that is not breast milk, including blood
- Lump in the underarm area
- Not all lumps in the breast are cancerous more than 80% are benign
- It is impossible to tell by feel only whether a lump is cancerous or not
- See a doctor if you notice any breast changes or lumps
How Long Can Someone Live With Stage 4 Cancer
Doctors usually give a prognosis for cancer in terms of an estimated survival rate over 5 years. These survival rates are a rough guide based on data from thousands of other people with a similar cancer and stage.
Survival rates vary depending on the location or type of cancer. Despite how far cancer spreads, doctors will still refer to the type of cancer by where it started.
The stage 4 survival rates for some of the most common forms of cancers include the following:
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You will have lots of questions about your cancer, starting with your diagnosis. Here are some basic questions you might ask:
- What is triple negative breast cancer?
- How do you know my cancer is triple negative breast cancer?
- Why did I get this cancer?
- Do I need genetic testing?
- Has my breast cancer spread, and if so, how far has it spread?
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- What is my prognosis or expected outcome?
- What treatments do you recommend?
- Why do you recommend those treatments?
- What are those treatment side effects?
- Will I need surgery? If so, what surgery do you recommend and why?
- Im interested in participating in clinical trials. Are you able to help me find one?
- Do you know if there are any local support groups?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Triple negative breast cancer is one of the more challenging breast cancers to treat. You might be discouraged by what you have read about triple negative breast cancer. But there are a number of very effective treatments for triple negative breast cancer, including immunotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. And every day researchers learn more about this rare cancer. Their knowledge is your power. If youre concerned you arent getting the straight story about your cancer, ask your healthcare provider to walk you through your diagnosis and treatment options.