Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Curable
Theres currently no cure for stage 4 breast cancer, but with treatments it can be kept under control, often for years at a time.
People with metastatic breast cancer need to receive treatments for the rest of their lives. If a certain treatment stops being effective, another treatment regimen may be tried.
How To Find Others With Mbc
The other difficulty can be finding others who are facing metastatic breast cancer. On Twitter, you can use the hashtag #bcsm which stands for breast cancer social media. Searching with this hashtag can introduce you to the latest news coming out of conferences , and many posts include images of slides.
To focus on metastatic breast cancer, you can try the hashtag #metastaticBC or #metastaticbreastcancer. Some people also post using the combination of #metastatic and #breastcancer.
Additionally, there are tweet chats held every other week in which patients, caregivers, advocates, oncologists, surgeons, researchers, and more all communicate on the same level.
Where Does Breast Cancer Spread To
Breast cancer cells seem to prefer to settle into:-
- long bones in the arms and legs
With an osteolytic metastasis, the cancer kind of eats away at the bone, creating holes.
With an osteoblastic bone metastasis, the bone mineral density actually increases, but this can cause the bones to fracture more easily. This requires a little more explanation. Breast cancer metastases tend to be lytic when they are untreated, and then they become densely sclerotic as they respond to treatment.
Even if no treatment is given yet, an osteoblastic metastasis from breast cancer generally indicates that the persons own body is trying to fight cancer with some success.
A CT scan may also be used to check for metastasis to the lungs or liver. A CT scan is essentially an X-ray linked to a computer. The breast cancer doctor injects a contrast dye agent into the bloodstream and this makes any cancer cells in the liver and chest easier to see.
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Dilemmas Of Stage Iv Breast Cancer
Indeed, there are many serious and personal questions involving stage IV breast cancer.; So, overall survival is less likely, and gains from intensive breast cancer treatment are unfortunately rather modest.; A serious consideration is, therefore,;quality of life during the course of treatment.
These decisions tend to be a dynamic process, based on individual cases, between patients and physicians.; Respect needs to be given to the expectations for treatment, the status of the disease and the patient wishes.
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 wound in the breast
- To treat a small number of metastases in a certain area, such as the brain
- To help prevent bone fractures
- When an area of cancer spread is pressing on the spinal cord
- To treat a blood vessel blockage in the liver
- To provide relief of pain or other symptoms
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 their goalwhether it is to try to cure the cancer or to prevent or treat symptoms.
Most Common Places It Spreads
It’s still breast cancer, even if it’s in another organ. For example, if breast cancer spreads to your lungs, that doesn’t mean you have lung cancer. Although it can spread to any part of your body, there are certain places it’s most likely to go to, including the lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs, and brain.
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.
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The Stages Of Breast Cancer
NOTE: Although a lot of this information is still valid, The American Joint Committee on Cancer has recently updated their classifications for staging breast tumors.
We will be updating all our articles on staging in the near future. In the meantime, please click HERE for a brief summary of the major changes in January 2018.;
If a breast biopsy confirms that breast cancer is indeed the diagnosis, the staging process begins.
The stages of breast cancer are really the extent of breast cancer.; So, in order to choose and begin the best treatment, it is necessary to stage breast cancer.; The staging process shows the progression of breast cancer.
Breast cancer progresses in relatively predictable and consistent ways, so it is possible to categorize breast cancer in terms of; stages.
There are basically five stages of breast cancer, with some subcategories .
How Effective Are Treatments For Bone Metastases
Although current treatments for bone metastases are unable to completely remove all cancer cells, many women with bone metastases can live for many years with extremely good quality of life.
The effect of bone metastasis on your prognosis is individual and depends on what type of cancer you have, where it has spread to and how you respond to various treatments. The main aim of any treatment is to control pain and other symptoms so you can enjoy your day-to- day activities as much as possible.
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About Metastatic Breast Cancer
Cancer begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control, forming a mass or sheet of cells called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.When breast cancer is limited to the breast and/or nearby lymph node regions, it is called early stage or locally advanced. Read about these stages in a different guide on Cancer.Net. When breast cancer spreads to an area farther from where it started to another part of the body, doctors say that the cancer has metastasized. They call the area of spread a metastasis, or use the plural of metastases if the cancer has spread to more than 1 area. The disease is called metastatic breast cancer. Another name for metastatic breast cancer is “stage IV breast cancer if it has already spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis of the original cancer.
Doctors may also call metastatic breast cancer advanced breast cancer. However, this term should not be confused with locally advanced breast cancer, which is breast cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body.
Stage Iv Breast Cancers May Be Recurrences Following Initial Treatment
Up to 5% of initial breast cancer diagnoses are of the most advanced or metastatic stage.; However, this number has significantly reduced with the implementation of widespread breast cancer screening programs.
Metastatic breast cancer can appear to be a rapid deterioration of a disease that has been present for some time undetected.
But metastatic breast cancer can also be the result of a recurrence of breast cancer after successful initial treatment. Sometimes the terms local and regional recurrence indicate a return of breast cancer to the original tumor site or elsewhere in the breast or contralateral breast.
If the cancer returns in other areas of the body it is a distant metastasis or distant recurrence.;
For more detail on Stage IV survival rates, recurrence rates and treatment please see our new post HERE.
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What Happens When Cancer Metastasizes Quizlet
What happens when cancer metastasizes quizlet?
Which type of cancer metastasizes?;Metastatic cancer is commonly called stage IV cancer or advanced cancer. It occurs when cancer cells break off from the original tumor, spread through the bloodstream or lymph vessels to another part of the body, and form new tumors. Nearby lymph nodes are the most common place for cancer to metastasize.
What must happen for metastasis to occur?;Metastases can occur in three ways: They can grow directly into the tissue surrounding the tumor; Cells can travel through the bloodstream to distant locations; or. Cells can travel through the lymph system to nearby or distant lymph nodes.
What is the life expectancy of someone with metastatic cancer?;A patient with widespread metastasis or with metastasis to the lymph nodes has a life expectancy of less than six weeks. A patient with metastasis to the brain has a more variable life expectancy depending on the number and location of lesions and the specifics of treatment.
Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer
Though we refer to it as simply breast cancer, like many diseases, breast cancer comes in several types that grow and respond to medicines differently. All breast cancers start in the tissues of the breast, when breast cells grow out of control. This happens because of a mutation in cell DNA that causes them to reproduce without stopping, making the cells become malignant, or cancerous. The most common types of breast cancer are ductal and lobular.
Ductal cancers begin by growing in a mass inside the ducts of the breast, the passageways that carry milk from the lobules to the nipple. They later spread through the wall of the ducts into the fat and fibrous tissue of the breast. When a ductal cancer travels through the wall, it causes a fibrous tissue reaction around itself, forming a scar that leads to a well-defined mass.
Knowing your subtype can help you and your doctors determine the best course of treatment for you. Many targeted medicines have been and are being developed for specific subtypes.
Lobular cancers start in the acinus of the lobule, the structure within the glands that produce breast milk. Unlike ductal cancer cells, lobular cancer cells spread through the wall of the acinus into the fat and fibrous tissues of the breast but do not collect scar tissue. They can sometimes grow without forming a mass, making them harder to find.
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Many Women Live For Decades With Metastatic Breast Cancer
A stage 4 diagnosis is not an instant death sentence, says Renee Sendelbach, 40, from Austin, Texas, who was diagnosed seven years ago, when she learned that her breast cancer had moved into her lungs, bones, and lymph nodes.
Ive had metastatic breast cancer for five years and Im still kicking, says Susan Rosen, 53, from Franklin, Massachusetts.
According to a 2017 article in the journal;Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 34 percent of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have been living with the disease for five years or longer.
The goal of treatment is to keep patients on their feet as long as possible so that they can continue to do what they want to do, says;Gretchen Kimmick, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina.
In recent years, treatment for breast cancer has vastly improved, largely because doctors are able to more accurately target therapy to the type of breast cancer a woman has. The discovery of the HER2 protein and medicines that block it has revolutionized treatment for women with cancers that overexpress this protein, Dr. Kimmick says. This cancer was pretty deadly two decades ago, and now we are starting to debate if weve cured it in some women.
Living With Secondary Breast Cancer
You will see your cancer doctor or specialist nurse regularly during and after treatment. This means that any symptoms or problems can be managed early on. You may have regular scans to check how the cancer has responded to treatment.
You may need treatment at different times or have ongoing treatment with hormone therapy. There may be long periods when the cancer is controlled and you are getting on with day-to-day life.
We have more about well-being and coping in our information about;living with secondary breast cancer.
You may get anxious between appointments. This is natural. It may help to get support from family, friends or a support organisation.;Macmillan is also here to support you. If you would like to talk, you can:;
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Why It Spreads And Recurs
You may be wondering why breast cancer cells travel at all. Or, why normal cells don’t spread around our bodies. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways. One of these is that normal cells have what is known as “adhesion molecules.” These adhesion molecules act like glue and keep cells where they belong in a particular part of the body.
Normal cells also have “boundaries” or ways in which cells communicate with each other. This is like one country saying to another “you don’t belong here.” Cancer cells, in contrast, don’t respect these cellular communications, essentially ignoring the “fences” between different tissues.
Yet another confusing topic when talking about breast cancer spread is why it can happen years or even decades later. We know that, especially with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers, cancer can seemingly disappear only to recur many years after the original tumor. Nobody is certain exactly how this happens, but there are theories about recurrence that suggest that some breast cancer cells are hardier than others and that these cancer “stem cells” are able to lie dormant even through treatment.
Bone Weakening And Fracture
Secondary breast cancer in the bone may mean that the affected bones are weakened, which can increase the risk of fracture. This is called a pathological fracture, which means the break in the bone is due to disease and not caused by an accident.
If a bone has fractured you may need surgery to try to repair the fracture. You may also be given drug treatment to stop this happening in the future.
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Palliative And Supportive Care
Palliative and supportive care focuses on symptom control and support. Its an extremely important part of the care and treatment for many people with secondary breast cancer and can significantly improve quality of life for them and their families.
People often associate palliative care with end-of-life treatment. However, many people value having it at any stage of their illness, alongside their medical treatment, to help prevent and relieve symptoms such as pain or fatigue. It can also help with the emotional, social and spiritual effects of secondary breast cancer.
The palliative and supportive care teams are based in hospitals, hospices and the community. You can be referred by your treatment team, GP or breast care nurse depending on your situation.
How Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosed
Currently, there’s no one test that can diagnose metastatic breast cancer. How the cancer is diagnosed depends on where it has spread in the body, Alberto Montero, MD, director of the breast cancer program at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio, tells Health.
In most cases, a diagnosis begins with someone with a history of breast cancer reporting a new, unusual symptom to their doctor, Dr. Montero says. This would prompt tests and imaging that would lead to a diagnosis of metastatic cancer. If a former breast cancer patient says they have worsening leg or knee pain, for example, their doctor might order an X-ray and bone scan to check for cancer lesions in those areas.;
“We really pay attention to people’s symptoms,” says Dr. Lin. “If somebody with a known prior history of early breast cancer calls with any suggestive symptoms, then we go on to do scans or tests focused on the areas that are having symptoms.” This is not to say that everyone with a history of breast cancer who reports headaches or abdominal pain has metastatic cancer. But doctors know to investigate further if they have a breast cancer patient with unusual symptoms, because they could indicate a cancer recurrence.;
This is different from how earlier-stage breast cancer is diagnosed, says Dr. Lin. In those cases, breast cancer is usually detected through a mammogram, and then confirmed with an ultrasound and then a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.;
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You May Not Know Im Sick By Looking At Me
I may look perfectly healthy, but Im sick, says Silberman. Treatment is hard. I sleep a lot. I still travel, but its difficult. I just visited a friend in Utah for four days, and it wore me out for two weeks.
Just because someone doesnt look like she has advanced-stage cancer, she can be very sick. It can be an invisible illness, says Silberman. You tell somebody you have cancer, but if you have hair, sometimes they dont believe you.
Tucatinib Neratinib And Lapatinib
The tyrosine-kinase inhibitors FDA-approved for metastatic breast cancer treatment are:
Tyrosine-kinase inhibitors are a class of drugs that target enzymes important for cell functions . These drugs can block tyrosine-kinase enzymes at many points along the cancer growth pathway.
A tyrosine-kinase inhibitor in combination with trastuzumab and chemotherapy can be used to treat HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. This combination may give women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer more time before the cancer spreads compared to treatment with trastuzumab and chemotherapy alone .
Adding the tyrosine-kinase inhibitor tucatinib to treatment with trastuzumab and chemotherapy may also increase overall survival in women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who were treated with trastuzumab in the past .
Neratinib is also used to treat HER2-positive early breast cancer.
Tucatinib, neratinib and lapatinib are pills.
Learn about neratinib and treatment of early breast cancer.
Tucatinib, neratinib and lapatinib and brain metastases
Many drug therapies cannot pass through the blood to the brain . So, they cant treat breast cancer that has spread to the brain.
However, tucatinib, neratinib and lapatinib can pass through the blood-brain barrier and may be used to treat some metastatic breast cancers that have spread to the brain.