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What Is Stage 4 Cancer Breast Cancer

What Is Stage 3 Breast Cancer

What Are the Treatment Options for Stage 4 Breast Cancer?

Also known as locally advanced breast cancer, the tumor in this stage of breast cancer is more than 2 inches in diameter across and the cancer is extensive in the underarm lymph nodes or has spread to other lymph nodes or tissues near the breast. Stage 3 breast cancer is a more advanced form of invasive breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer cells have usually not spread to more distant sites in the body, but they are present in several axillary lymph nodes. The tumor may also be quite large at this stage, possibly extending to the chest wall or the skin of the breast.

Stage 3 breast cancer is divided into three categories:

Stage 3A: One of the following is true:

  • No tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is present in axillary lymph nodes that are attached to either other or other structures, or cancer may be found in the lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
  • The tumor is 2 cm or smaller. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone, or
  • The tumor is 2 cm to 4 cm in size. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
  • The tumor is larger than 5 cm. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that may be attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.

Stage 3C:

What Is The Tnm System

The TNM system uses the results from x-rays, scans, biopsies and other tests to provide information about a persons cancer.

This is recorded in three categories represented by the letters TNM, each followed by a number or letter showing the extent of the cancer:

T shows how large the tumour or primary cancer is and whether it has spread into nearby tissues. The numbers 1 to 4 are used to provide information about this.

N shows whether the cancer has spread into any nearby lymph nodes and how many nodes are involved. 0 means no lymph nodes are affected, while the numbers 1 to 3 show that nodes are involved and indicate how many.

M shows whether the cancer has spread from where it started to other parts of the body, which is known as metastasis. 0 means no spread and 1 means it has spread.

What Is The Prognosis For Those With Metastatic Cancer

While there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there are treatments that slow the cancer, extending the patients life while also improving the quality of life, Henry says. Many patients now live 10 years or more after a metastatic diagnosis.

“We are seeing improvements in how long people are living. The new types of medicines that are being approved treat the cancer and help with other symptoms. People are not only living longer, but they are also feeling better longer for the most part, which is very encouraging.”

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Can You Actually Survive Stage 4 Breast Cancer Nowadays

Hello

Thanks in advance for any advice or answers.

Am sorry to trouble you but am confused about what i have read and what i have been told.

I have been told by a medical team that advanced breast cancer can be loooked at just like a chronic illness in some circumstances

And I have also read recently that advanced breast cancer has an excellent survival rate,.

But what is excellent in these circumstances? I want to be positive but also realistic.

I read tales where people are happy that either themselves, their friends or relatives made it to 5 years, which indeed is lovely.

And I know this may sound odd or maybe ungrateful but Is this considered excellent?

I always thought with chronic illnesses you just lived a normal life span but carried on with treatment.

Has anyone ever made it to 10, 20, 30,or even 40 years?

The Number Staging System

Visual Guide to The Stages of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can also be divided into four number stages. We have put these into a table to make them easier to understand. You can .

This information is about stage 1 to 3 breast cancer.

Stage 1 breast cancer is when the cancer is 2cm or smaller. There may be no cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the armpit or tiny numbers of cancer cells are found. Sometimes the cancer cannot be found in the breast, but cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes in the armpit.

Stage 2 breast cancer is when the cancer is up to or bigger than 5cm. It may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes under the arm. Sometimes the cancer cannot be found in the breast. But cancer cells have spread to 1 to 3 lymph nodes in the armpit or near the breast bone.

Stage 3 breast cancer is sometimes called locally advanced breast cancer. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit and sometimes to other lymph nodes nearby. It may have spread to the skin of the breast or to the chest muscle. The skin may be red, swollen or have broken down. Sometimes the cancer cannot be found in the breast or is small but has spread to 4 to 9 lymph nodes in the armpit.

Stage 4 breast cancer is also called secondary or metastatic breast cancer. This is when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones, the liver or lungs. We have separate information about secondary breast cancer.

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What Is Stage 4 Cancer

Stage 4 cancer is sometimes referred to as metastatic cancer, because it often means the cancer has spread from its origin to distant parts of the body. This stage may be diagnosed years after the initial cancer diagnosis and/or after the primary cancer has been treated or removed.

When a cancer metastasizes to a different part of the body, it is still defined by its original location. For instance, if breast cancer metastasizes to the brain, it is still considered breast cancer, not brain cancer. Many stage 4 cancers have subcategories, such as stage 4A or stage 4B, which are often determined by the degree to which the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Liquid cancers, or blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma, are staged differently than most other cancers because they may not always form solid tumors. Liquid cancers may be staged by a variety of factors, including:

  • The ratio of healthy blood cells to cancerous cells
  • The degree to which lymph nodes, the liver or spleen may be swollen
  • Whether the cancer has resulted in blood disorders such as anemia

Stage 4 cancer is determined in the five most common cancers this way:

Living With Secondary Breast Cancer

Everyones experience of being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer is different, and people cope in their own way.

For many people, uncertainty can be the hardest part of living with secondary breast cancer.

Our information on living with secondary breast cancer addresses the emotional, practical and physical effects of a diagnosis.

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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:

Can The Cancer Stage Change

Stage Four Breast Cancer Treatment, Surgeons Perspective – Dr. Jay K. Harness

Once diagnosed, a cancers stage never changes. Even if the patient improves or gets worse, their cancer is the same as when diagnosed.

Once diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, you will always have stage 4 cancer. That doesnt mean that you cannot sustain a long period of disease-free survival.

Part of the reason for this is statisticalstages help scientists track and reevaluate survival statistics and treatment protocols. But they also let doctors track the efficacy of treatments for your stage.

Doctors use cancer stages to compare patients with similar diagnoses, to more easily study the effectiveness of treatments, to track a persons cancer progression, and as a way to estimate survival rates for specific cancers.

Part of the confusion regarding staging status arises from the fact the disease is sometimes re-staged. Re-staging determines if there has been a progression or remission of the disease.

If cancer is re-staged or recurs , doctors keep the initial staging diagnosis and add a new stage to the patients diagnosis. New staging diagnoses get differentiated with letterslike c for clinical, p for pathological , or y for after treatment.

For instance, stage 2 breast cancer that suddenly spreads to the lungs is stage 2 breast cancer with lung metastases rather than stage 4 breast cancer. Similarly, if stage 4 breast cancer meets the definition of remission after treatment, they describe it as stage 4 breast cancer with no evidence of disease.

Also Check: Metastatic Breast Cancer Life Expectancy Without Treatment

Living With A Diagnosis Of Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Treatment for stage 4 breast cancer involves more than just treating the disease. Its about providing emotional support for people with breast cancer and their loved ones. Finding the right support for your mental health can be a powerful way to be in control of your experience while living with a difficult diagnosis. It may help to remember that:

  • Its OK to focus on your experience and symptoms rather than aggressive treatment. And prioritizing your quality of life can have a powerful effect on survival. Many people with metastatic breast cancer live for several years with this diagnosis.

  • It can be tempting to compare your case and experience to the experiences of others. But remember that everyone is different. And the way someone chooses to treat and live with stage 4 breast cancer can look very different from person to person.

  • Its important to surround yourself with people who support you. This includes friends, family, a counselor or therapist, a support group, and your cancer specialists.

  • While its easier said than done, be patient with yourself. Processing your emotions and reflecting on your treatment goals can take some time.

Research Into Advanced And Metastatic Breast Cancer

As metastatic breast cancer remains the leading cause of death from breast cancer, NBCF is committed to funding a broad spectrum of research that helps to further understand breast cancer metastasis, develop improved treatment options and enhance patient quality of life for those with metastatic breast cancer.

Also Check: Can Cancer Come Back In The Same Breast

Living With Stage : The Breast Cancer No One Understands

Leer en español.

Editor’s note: We’re bringing back this piece from October 2014 for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and to honor Jody Schoger, featured in the story. Schoger died of metastatic breast cancer in May. Want to learn more about MBC? Look for our tweets at the Northwest Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference this Saturday at Fred Hutch.

A no-nonsense Texan of 60 years, Jody Schoger* has a very no-nonsense way of educating people about her metastatic breast cancer.

âSomeone will say, âWhen are you done with treatment?â and Iâll tell them, âWhen Iâm dead,ââ said Schoger, a writer and cancer advocate who lives near Houston. âSo many people interpret survivorship as going across the board. That everybody survives cancer now. But everybody does not survive cancer.â

An estimated 155,000-plus women in the U.S. currently live with âmets,â or metastatic breast cancer. This type of cancer, also called stage 4 breast cancer, means the cancer has metastasized, or traveled, through the bloodstream to create tumors in the liver, lungs, brain, bones and/or other parts of the body. Between 20 and 30 percent of women with early stage breast cancer go on to develop metastatic disease. While treatable, metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured. The five-year survival rate for stage 4 breast cancer is 22 percent median survival is three years. Annually, the disease takes 40,000 lives.

A Disease No One Gets

Breast Cancer

Sadly, people donât âgetâ mets. In fact, a recent survey sponsored by Pfizer Oncology shows just how misunderstood it is. Sixty percent of the 2,000 people surveyed knew little to nothing about MBC while 72 percent believed advanced breast cancer was curable as long as it was diagnosed early. Even more disheartening, a full 50 percent thought breast cancer progressed because patients either didnât take the right treatment or the right preventive measures.

âTheyâve built an industry built on four words â early detection equals cure â and that doesnât even begin to define breast cancer,â said Schoger, who helped found Breast Cancer Social Media, a virtual community for breast cancer patients, caregivers, surgeons, oncologists and others. âWomen are blamed for the fate of bad biology.â

The MBC Alliance, a consortium of 29 cancer organizations including the biggest names in breast cancer , addressed this lack of understanding and support as well as what many patient advocates term the underfunding of MBC research in a recently published landmark report.

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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.

Stage 4 Breast Cancer

Advanced breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. This process of spreading from the original location to a new location is known as metastasis.

The most common places of breast cancer spread include the bones, liver, lung, and brain. However, breast cancer may also spread to other organs.

The majority of women who are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have been diagnosed with an earlier stage of breast cancer before. In this instance, the original cancer in the breast is called the primary cancer. However, for some women, a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer may be their first diagnosis of cancer .

Also Check: Do You Gain Weight With Breast Cancer

T Categories For Breast Cancer

T followed by a number from 0 to 4 describes the main tumor’s size and if it has spread to the skin or to the chest wall under the breast. Higher T numbers mean a larger tumor and/or wider spread to tissues near the breast.

TX: Primary tumor cannot be assessed.

T0: No evidence of primary tumor.

Tis: Carcinoma in situ

T1 : Tumor is 2 cm or less across.

T2: Tumor is more than 2 cm but not more than 5 cm across.

T3: Tumor is more than 5 cm across.

T4 : Tumor of any size growing into the chest wall or skin. This includes inflammatory breast cancer.

What Is Stage Ii Breast Cancer

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Definition

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.

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What Hope Do You Give Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer

“We have seen quite a number of medications approved in the last few years. And we know that there are more medications being reviewed by the FDA for consideration of approval in the next few years.” Henry says. “It’s an exciting time in oncology to have all these new treatments being developed.

“I always stress to patients that I want to do everything I can to help them live as long as they can, while still maintaining quality of life, allowing them to do the things they want to do. We do our best to make sure that we adjust treatment schedules to allow people to attend graduations or family reunions, or a trip they want to be able to take,” explains Henry.

“We want to help them look forward.”

Continue learning about breast cancer, metastatic cancer and the people who live with it

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