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.
What Is Metastatic Cancer
In metastasis, cancer cells break away from where they first formed , travel through the blood or lymph system, and form new tumors in other parts of the body. The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor.
Cancer that spreads from where it started to a distant part of the body is called metastatic cancer. For many types of cancer, it is also called stage IV cancer. The process by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body is called metastasis.
When observed under a microscope and tested in other ways, metastatic cancer cells have features like that of the primary cancer and not like the cells in the place where the metastatic cancer is found. This is how doctors can tell that it is cancer that has spread from another part of the body.
Metastatic cancer has the same name as the primary cancer. For example, breast cancer that spreads to the lung is called metastatic breast cancer, not lung cancer. It is treated as stage IV breast cancer, not as lung cancer.
Sometimes when people are diagnosed with metastatic cancer, doctors cannot tell where it started. This type of cancer is called cancer of unknown primary origin, or CUP. See the Carcinoma of Unknown Primary page for more information.
Genetic Testing And Metastatic Breast Cancer Video
If youve been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, it can be helpful to find out whether or not you have a hereditary genetic mutation. Testing positive for certain genetic mutations can affect your treatment choices. In some cases, testing positive for a genetic mutation could mean that youre eligible for a clinical trial that can provide a potential treatment option.
In the video Genetic Testing and Metastatic Breast Cancer, you can learn how genetic counseling and genetic testing might benefit you.
Our featured guests:
- Cristina Nixon, M.S., L/CGC, a licensed certified genetic counselor with the Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetics Program at Main Line Health
- Dana Yorko, who was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer in 2013. Dana later experienced a recurrence and was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She underwent genetic counseling with Cristina, which led to genetic testing.
Learn more about the information presented in this video:
Don’t Miss: What Is Hr Positive Breast Cancer
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.
Thick Area Around The Breast
Yet another one of the factors that pose as the early signs of breast cancer is the feeling of a thick area around the breast. If you have a spot around your breast that does feel less squishy and instead feels tight and dense, it is possible a sign of breast cancer.
The thickening of the breast tissues is often common during menstruation or even if you are breastfeeding. The problem arises if the condition is persistent and doesnt go away. If you find that instead of healing, the same is getting bigger and spreading around, it is possible that the same could be a sign of breast cancer.
This thick presence is mainly because of the accumulation of the cancer cells which then on block the circulation around the breasts. It is quite different from the hard lump that many people often tend to confuse this with.
Don’t Miss: Stage 3c Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Most breast cancer symptoms are discovered by women during regular dailyactivities like bathing. Knowing how your breasts look and feel, andbeing alert for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, like a lump,can help you detect the disease early, when it’s easiest to treat.
Most breast changes are due to hormonal cycles or conditions that are less worrying than breast cancer. However, if you experience any of the following breast cancer symptoms, even if they seem mild, see your doctor.
- A lump in the breast or armpit is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Patients often describe this as a ball or a nodule. Lumps may feel soft and rubbery or hard. Unless you have small breasts or the lump is very large, you probably wont be able to see it.
- Skin redness
- Nipple changes, including the nipple turning inward, pulling to one side or changing direction
- Ulcer on the breast or nipple
- Thickening of the skin, resulting in an orange-peel texture
Though rare, men can also get breast cancer. The most common symptoms of male breast cancer are a lump, discharge or dimpling.
What To Do If You Spot Symptoms
Anyone who notices a change in their breast that develops without a clear cause should see a doctor, especially if the changes affect only one breast. In many cases, routine screening will reveal any significant changes.
Breast cancer is highly treatable if diagnosis occurs in the early stages. Regular screening can help with this.
As of April 2019, the ACP make for screening for women with an average risk of breast cancer and other guidelines for those with a higher risk.
For those with an average risk:
Women ages 40â49 should ask their doctor about whether they should start having a routine mammogram.
Women aged 50â74 who have an average risk should have a mammogram every 2 years.
Women with an average risk should stop screening when they reach 75 years of age, or if they expect to live another 10 years or fewer.
Women of all ages with an average risk should not undergo clinical breast examination to screen for breast cancer.
Other organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, make different recommendations. Each person should ask their doctor for advice on the best strategy for them.
It is helpful for people to be aware of how their breasts feel so that they can get used to any regular changes that occur. If they notice anything unusual, they should see their doctor.
At their visit, the doctor may use one of the following methods:
Recommended Reading: Is Stage 1 Breast Cancer Curable
Early Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in your breast or underarm that doesnât go away. This is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
- Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. This could mean breast cancer has spread to lymph nodes in that area. Swelling may start before you feel a lump, so let your doctor know if you notice it.
- Pain and tenderness, although lumps donât usually hurt. Some may cause a prickly feeling.
- A flat or indented area on your breast. This could happen because of a tumor that you canât see or feel.
- Breast changes such as a difference in the size, contour, texture, or temperature of your breast.
- Changes in your nipple, like one that:
- Pulls inward
- Develops sores
Breast Cancer Types And Symptoms
There are several kinds of breast cancer. Many of them share symptoms.
Symptoms of ductal carcinoma
This is the most common type of breast cancer. It begins in your ducts. About 1 in 5 new breast cancers are ductal carcinoma in situ . This means you have cancer in the cells that line your ducts, but it hasnât spread into nearby tissue.
You may not notice any symptoms of ductal carcinoma. It can also cause a breast lump or bloody discharge.
Symptoms of lobular carcinoma
This kind begins in the glands that make milk, called lobules. Itâs the second most common type of breast cancer. Symptoms include:
- Fullness, thickening, or swelling in one area
- Nipples that are flat or point inward
Symptoms of invasive breast cancer
Breast cancer thatâs spread from where it began into the tissues around it is called invasive or infiltrating. You may notice:
- A lump in your breast or armpit. You might not be able to move it separately from your skin or move it at all.
- One breast that looks different from the other
- A rash or skin thatâs thick, red, or dimpled like an orange
- Skin sores
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Muscle weakness
Symptoms of triple-negative breast cancer
Breast cancer is called triple-negative if it doesnât have receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and doesnât make a lot of a protein called HER2. This kind tends to grow and spread faster than other types, and doctors treat it differently.
Symptoms of male breast cancer
- A small, hard cyst
You May Like: Stage Four Breast Cancer Symptoms
Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Early Detection And Prevention
When it comes to cancer, early detection is important, but so is reducing your risk. There are several healthy lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Stay lean after menopause. Keep a healthy weight and a low amount of body fat. Eating a healthy diet can help.
Get active and sit less. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. Do strength-training exercises at least two days a week.
Avoid alcohol. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man.
Choose to breastfeed. Try to breastfeed exclusively for six months after giving birth, and continue even when other foods are introduced.
Manage hormones naturally. If you are going through menopause and trying to control the symptoms, try non-hormonal methods before turning to hormone replacement therapy.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, get regular breast cancer screening exams. Screening exams can detect cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. Women age 25 to 39 should consider a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Women 40 and older should get an annual breast exam and a screening mammogram.
Other Symptoms And Signs Of Metastasis
Loss of appetite
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. This may 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.
Read Also: Baking Soda And Breast Cancer
Symptoms Of Recurrent Prostate Cancer
Recurrent prostate cancer is the state where cancer returns after its treatment. It may occur around the prostate and refer to local recurrence. In case it is found in the other part of the body, it is also referred to as metastatic. Certain symptoms will let you get an idea about it. These are as follows:-
- There is blood in the urine
- Difficulty in urination
Common Signs Of Breast Cancer Metastasis
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.
You May Like: How Can Breast Cancer Be Diagnosed
Read Also: What Is A Malignant Neoplasm Of The Breast
How Does Cancer Spread Or Metastasize
The spread of cancer usually happens through one or more of the following steps:
- Cancer cells invade nearby healthy cells. When the healthy cell is taken over, it too can replicate more abnormal cells.
- Cancer cells penetrate into the circulatory or lymph system. Cancer cells travel through the walls of nearby lymph vessels or blood vessels.
- Migration through circulation. Cancer cells are carried by the lymph system and the bloodstream to other parts of the body.
- Cancer cells lodge in capillaries. Cancer cells stop moving as they are lodged in capillaries at a distant location and divide and migrate into the surrounding tissue.
- New small tumors grow. Cancer cells form small tumors at the new location
Read Also: Is Triple Positive Breast Cancer Curable
Where Do These Numbers Come From
The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* 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.
Don’t Miss: What Are The Symptoms Of Stage 1 Breast Cancer
Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast
Another rare form of breast cancer, angiosarcoma forms inside the lymph and blood vessels. Only a biopsy may definitively diagnose this type of cancer. Angiosarcoma can cause changes to the skin of your breast, such as the development of purple-colored nodules that resemble a bruise. These nodules, if bumped or scratched, may bleed. Over time, these discolored areas may expand, making your skin appear swollen in that area. You may or may not have breast lumps with angiosarcoma. If you also have lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid, angiosarcoma may occur in the affected arm. Cancer treatment sometimes damages the lymph vessels, which may lead to lymphedema.
New Technology Could Detect Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
A University of Canterbury student has come up with a new computerized method of reading mammograms that could help radiologists detect warning signs of breast cancer.
Haipeng Li is about to complete a Ph.D. in Software Engineering at UC after spending the last three years working on computational algorithms that can automatically read and analyze mammogram X-rays.
The algorithms he has developed, with UC Professor Ramakrishnan Mukundan and radiologist Dr. Shelley Boyd at Pacific Radiology in Christchurch as his supervisors, have been shown to accurately detect two markers linked to increased risk of breast cancer.
He hopes the research will eventually help radiologists identify cancers at an early stage when they can be treated more successfully.
“Early detection through routine mammograms plays an important role in preventing breast cancer deaths,” Li says. “But reading and interpreting suspicious regions in mammograms is repetitive and challenging work.
“The algorithms I’ve been working on are designed to make it easier for radiologists to pick up two biomarkers for breast cancermicrocalcifications and mammogram density. Tiny calcium deposits in the breast and dense breast tissue are both indicators of a higher risk of developing breast cancer.”
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women with over 1.5 million diagnosed worldwide each year.
You May Like: How Do Doctors Treat Breast Cancer
What Are The Localized Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer most often spreads to the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. It doesn’t spread exclusively to those locations, but these are the most common sites of metastasis.
Most metastatic breast cancer patients don’t experience symptoms in their breasts, says Dr. Taiwo. That’s because in the majority of cases of metastatic breast cancer, a person was previously diagnosed with an earlier-stage breast cancer and received localized treatment to their breasts. Only a minority of metastatic breast cancer patients are initially diagnosed with stage 4 cancer if they have a breast mass, it likely isn’t painful, she says. Very rarely does a breast cancer mass grow to the point where it becomes ulcerous and painful.
Thus, most symptoms of metastatic breast cancer vary depending on where the cancer has spread. Someone who has cancerous lesions in their bone will have a different set of symptoms than someone whose cancer has metastasized to their brain or liver. Here’s an overview of the different symptoms for these common sites.