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What Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Life Expectancy

Are There Any Statistics On Recurrence Rates Or Incidence Of Metastasis

Stage 4 Breast Cancer: Is It a Death Sentence?

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.

Survival For All Stages Of Breast Cancer

Generally for women with breast cancer in England:

  • Around 95 out of every 100 women survive their cancer for 1 year or more after diagnosis
  • Around 85 out of every 100 women will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • Around 75 out of every 100 women will survive their cancer for 10 years or more after diagnosis

Cancer survival by stage at diagnosis for England, 2019Office for National Statistics

These statistics are for net survival. Net survival estimates the number of people who survive their cancer rather than calculating the number of people diagnosed with cancer who are still alive. In other words, it is the survival of cancer patients after taking into account that some people would have died from other causes if they had not had cancer.

There Are Good Days And Bad Days

There are days when I say to myself, Ive had enough. I cant take it anymore, says Rosen. But I want to keep on living. I love my life. Overall, I have a great life except for the cancer.

Rosen has a few mantras she uses when things get tough. A lot of the tough times are treatment related, she says. I refer to those as bumps in the road, and , This too shall pass.

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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

Will I Need More Than One Treatment For Metastatic Breast Cancer

Life Expectancy of Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Medications are important for metastatic breast cancer to help control its spread. Resistance to therapies may develop, which can lead your care team to recommend a change in treatment.

When you start a treatment regimen, you and your care team will see how:

  • The cancer responds to the therapy.
  • The side effects impact you.

If the treatment isnt working or the side effects are unbearable, your care team can discuss switching the treatment method. They may recommend a different drug, dosage or schedule.

There are many treatments available. If one therapy isnt working for you for whatever reason, there is usually another one you can try.

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How Your Prognosis Might Affect You

It can be difficult to take in and make sense of information about your prognosis. Having a good prognosis may reassure you, although you may still worry. If your prognosis is less good, you may feel anxious about the future. However you feel, theres no evidence that peoples attitude to having cancer alters their prognosis.

No tests can tell you with complete certainty what will happen to you. Sometimes people with a poor prognosis live for a long time. Equally, breast cancer can come back in people with a seemingly excellent prognosis.

Its normal to want to make plans for the future and the uncertainty about a diagnosis of breast cancer can be hard to live with. Most people find that it gets easier over time but sometimes you may need more support. This can come in all sorts of ways: from your friends or family, your breast care nurse, specialist or GP. You can also be referred to a counsellor who is trained to help people explore their feelings following a diagnosis of, and treatment for, breast cancer.

Whatever challenges or concerns youre facing, Breast Cancer Now is here to support you. Whether you want to speak to our nurses, join our online Forum or connect with volunteers who have faced what youre facing now, we can help you feel more in control.

For more information, visit our support for you section.

Mechanisms Of Breast Cancer Metastasis

No one really knows what factors will make a certain patient more or less susceptible to breast cancer metastasis.

There is growing awareness that part of that susceptibility is due to host factors. The host factors are the characteristics of the non-malignant cells and the general biological environment surrounding the malignant breast tumor.

Sometimes the host factors are referred to as the pre-metastatic niche and it is thought that bone-marrow-derived progenitor cells may directly influence the dissemination of malignant cells to distant areas.

Non-neoplastichost cells within the tumor may also play a key role in the regulation of breast cancer metastasis.

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What I Wish People Knew About Metastatic Breast Cancer

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.

Are New Treatments For Metastatic Cancer Being Developed

Prediction Of Stage Four Breast Cancer Progression

Yes. Researchers are now studying new ways to kill or stop the growth of primary cancer cells and metastatic cancer cells. One new area of research includes ways to boost the strength of the immune response against tumors.

Regulatory T-cells and RANKL proteins may play a role in breast cancer metastasisRecent breast cancer research suggests that the bodys regulatory T cells, which are an integral part of the immune response system, may play a key role in metastasis.

It is speculated that the T cells produce a protein which seems to accelerate the spread of breast cancer cells to other areas of the body. The inflammatory protein RANKL seems to influence the T-cells ability to spread cancer cells to distant areas of the body.

It is believed that by interfering with RANKLs ability to interact with the T-cells, the early metastasis of breast cancer cells can be significantly inhibited

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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.

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.

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Clinical Manifestations Of Stage 4

The main classification signs of breast cancer stage 4 are its spread to remote organs or lymph nodes. The size of the tumor at this stage is no longer important moreover, it may no longer be detected at the primary site.

It is the metastases that most often develop in the liver, lungs, and bones that give information about the development of the oncological process. They are painful and cause vivid symptoms. Metastases in the liver give jaundice and increase abdominal size. Metastases in the lungs give shortness of breath, and in the bones severe pain and frequent fractures.

  • severe intoxication

Relative Survival Rates For Breast Cancer

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The National Cancer Institute gives 5-year relative survival rates for breast cancer based on how far the disease had spread before a doctor found it.

  • Localized : 99%
  • Unknown stage: 55%
  • All stages: 90%

While these numbers can give you a general idea, they are an average for women with any type of breast cancer. They arent specific to the HER2+ type. They also come from data that researchers collected from 2010 to 2016, so they dont reflect more recent treatment advances.

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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.

Recurrent Breast Cancer: Facts And Figures

Breast cancer can return at any point after the initial diagnosis and treatment. This is one of the most anxiety-provoking factors for many women after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

There are 3 types of cancer recurrence:-

  • Localized: The cancer returns to the original site where it started.
  • Regional: The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissues or organs
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant body sites such as the bone, brain, liver or lungs.
  • It is very difficult to predict how many breast cancers of all stages recur, at local, regional and distant sites.

    Indeed, breast cancer incidence and mortality rates are documented over the years. However, data on most cancer registries do not document the incidence of recurrence.

    Furthermore, a local or regional recurrence does not have the same prognostic impact as distant metastasis. Even more difficult to handle, is that cancer can recur at any given point in time.

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    Stage 4 Breast Cancer Life Expectancy

    Stage four of any type of cancer implies that the cancer has moved to other parts of the body and is not limited to the body part that was initially diagnosed. The cancer will have moved to the brain, lungs, liver and even the bones. Stage 4 breast cancer has usually been regarded as incurable. But recent advancements in research and medical science have resulted in the disease being treated as a chronic condition. This means more and more women are able to live longer lives when they are given better care and support and have high levels of personal motivation. When the cancer responds to the treatments, it allows its sufferers to live several years longer than expected.

    Types Of Bone Metastases

    Breast Cancer Stage 0 1 2 3 4 Treatment, Survival Rate and Life Expectancy

    Normally your bones are constantly changing. New bone tissue is being formed and old bone tissue is breaking down into minerals that circulate in your blood. This process is called remodeling.

    Cancer cells upset the normal process of bone remodeling, causing bones to become weak or too dense, depending on the type of bone cells affected.

    Your bone metastases may be:

    • osteoblastic, if there are too many new bone cells
    • osteolytic, if too much bone is destroyed

    In some cases, your bones may have both types of metastases.

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    Talking To Other People

    Talking about how youre feeling can often help you cope in the early days. You may be able to do this with family and friends, but many people find this very difficult.

    Talking with a specialist nurse can often help. You can ask to be put in contact with one if you havent already.

    Breast Cancer Now is also here to help. Through our services you can:

    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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    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.

    How Is Prognosis Estimated

    October 13th is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

    Prognosis is estimated by looking at what has happened over many years to large groups of people diagnosed with a similar cancer. However, everyones situation is different so no one can say for certain what will happen to you. Also, treatments and survival rates are constantly improving, which affects the accuracy of estimates for people being treated today.

    Prognosis is described in different ways. It may be put into words or numbers. Its often expressed as a five- or ten-year survival rate. This is an estimate of how many people are likely to be alive five or ten years following their diagnosis.

    A 90% five-year survival rate means that 90 out of 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to be alive five years after their diagnosis. It doesnt mean these people will only live for five years it just states how many people are likely to be alive at that point.

    Cancer Research UK has general statistics on five- and ten-year breast cancer survival rates on their website. Remember, these statistics are based on large groups of patients and cannot predict what will happen in your individual case.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Stage 4 Breast Cancer

    Women with stage four breast cancer can experience symptoms in the spine, hip, ribs, skull, pelvis, arms and legs. Walking, even for short distances, can become difficult and extremely painful. When the cancer reaches the lungs it can cause shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and a chronic, painful cough. Cancer cells in the liver do not display observable symptoms for a considerable amount of time. As the disease progresses, women can experience jaundice, fever and exaggerated weight loss as a result of the cancer spreading to the liver.

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