Our Advice To Other Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer: Be Nice To Yourself
Give yourself a break! is the advice that Sendelbach offers. Stop negative self-talk about what you should have done but didnt do, she says. If you have MBC, you need to be kind and loving to yourself.
The body has only so much energy to offer per day, and managing metastatic breast cancer requires a lot of it. So it doesnt make sense to try to compare what youre able to do with what your cancer-free friends are accomplishing.
Just getting through the day can be hard, Sendelbach says. Getting rid of those not good enough feelings can lift a huge weight off you.
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
Survival Rates For Metastatic Breast Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society , the 5-year survival rate after diagnosis for people with stage 4 breast cancer is 28 percent. This percentage is considerably lower than earlier stages. For all stages, the overall 5-year survival rate is 90 percent.
Because survival rates are higher in the early stages of breast cancer, early diagnosis and treatment is crucial. But remember: The right treatment for stage 4 breast cancer can improve quality of life and longevity.
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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.
How A Breast Cancers Stage Is Determined
Your pathology report will include information that is used to calculate the stage of the breast cancer that is, whether it is limited to one area in the breast, or it has spread to healthy tissues inside the breast or to other parts of the body. Your doctor will begin to determine this during surgery to remove the cancer and look at one or more of the underarm lymph nodes, which is where breast cancer tends to travel first. He or she also may order additional blood tests or imaging tests if there is reason to believe the cancer might have spread beyond the breast.
The breast cancer staging system, called the TNM system, is overseen by the American Joint Committee on Cancer . The AJCC is a group of cancer experts who oversee how cancer is classified and communicated. This is to ensure that all doctors and treatment facilities are describing cancer in a uniform way so that the treatment results of all people can be compared and understood.
In the past, stage number was calculated based on just three clinical characteristics, T, N, and M:
- the size of the cancer tumor and whether or not it has grown into nearby tissue
- whether cancer is in the lymph nodes
- whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body beyond the breast
Numbers or letters after T, N, and M give more details about each characteristic. Higher numbers mean the cancer is more advanced. Jump to more detailed information about the TNM system.
Jump to a specific breast cancer stage to learn more:
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Stage 1b Breast Cancer Means One Of The Following Descriptions Applies:
Lymph nodes have cancer evidence with small clusters of cells between the approximate size of a pinprick to the approximate width of a grain of rice .
AND EITHER No actual tumor is found in the breast.
OR The tumor is smaller than the approximate size of a peanut .
Similar to stage 0, breast cancer at this stage is very treatable and survivable. When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage , the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%.
How Often Does Stage 1 Breast Cancer Come Back After Treatment
If stage 1 cancer is treated comprehensively, it rarely comes back. A new, unrelated breast cancer is more likely to emerge after stage 1 breast cancer is treated than a recurrence. Your healthcare provider will recommend a surveillance schedule for you so that new breast cancer or a recurrence can be identified and treated as quickly as possible.
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How Common Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. The average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease.
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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Myth #: If An Earlier
Ninety percent of MBC diagnoses occur in people who have already been treated for an earlier-stage breast cancer. Many people are under the impression that remaining cancer-free for 5 years means that a metastatic recurrence cant happen. However, distant recurrences can occur several years or even decades after initial diagnosis. Factors such as original tumor size and the number of lymph nodes involved can help predict the risk of recurrence.
For example, a 2017 survey of 88 studies involving nearly 63,000 women diagnosed with early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer found that the risk of distant recurrence within 20 years ranged from 13% to 41%, depending on tumor size and lymph node involvement.1
As KatyK of Idaho comments: that you are cured if you are cancer-free 5 years after initial diagnosis. I fell for that one myself. When I was diagnosed with MBC 12 years after initial diagnosis I was shocked. I thought I was cured, which to me means all better. Nope! Not even sure medically what cured means.
Stage 3 Breast Cancer
What is Stage 3 breast cancer?
Stage 3 breast cancer is when tumors are larger than earlier stages or are growing into nearby tissues, and the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes. There are three categories of Stage 3 breast cancer:
- Stage 3A In some cases, Stage 3A breast cancer indicates that the cancer spread to four to nine area lymph nodes, and there may or may not be a tumor in the breast. In other cases, it can describe a cancer that has spread less but the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters.
- Stage 3B Stage 3B breast cancer can mean that the cancer has spread to the chest wall or to the breasts skin, causing swelling or an ulcer. It may also mean that cancer has spread to up to nine axillary lymph nodes or lymph nodes near the breast bone.
- Stage 3C Stage 3C breast cancer means the cancer may have spread to the chest wall or breasts skin, or it has spread to 10 or more nearby lymph nodes. It can also mean the cancer has also spread to lymph nodes above or below the collarbone.
What are the treatment options for Stage 3 breast cancer?
Stage 3 breast cancer treatment timeline
The treatment timeline for Stage 3 breast cancer depends greatly on the severity, extent of spreading, the type of treatment youre undergoing and how youre responding to those treatments. For most Stage 3 cases, treatment can last anywhere from six to 12 months with hormone therapy lasting many years after.
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What Is Stage Iii
“In this stage, I tell my patients the real war against the cancer begins,” Cruz said. “Spreading is much more advanced.”
According to Cruz, stage III is unique in that it has three subcategories: IIIA, IIIB and IIIC.
IIIA has tumors all larger than five millimeters and has spread to lymph nodes. Cruz said the higher number of lymph nodes with cancer cells, the more advanced it is.
In stage IIIB, the tumor has spread to the chest wall and skin of the breast. In many cases, this spreading can result in swelling or ulcers. The cancer cells have also spread to nine lymph nodes.
There is advanced spreading in stage IIIC: the cancer has spread to the chest wall, skin of the breast, 10 or more lymph nodes and the collarbone.
“In stage III, yes there is advanced spreading. Yes it is harder to treat, but not untreatable,” Cruz said. “That’s what we tell our patients, although the spreading is scary, we can still fight it.”
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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Treatment For Physical Symptoms
Several medications can help relieve pain. The American Cancer Society urge that a person should not have to endure pain in the final months and days of life.
Many people find relief with opioid medications, but these can cause side effects such as fatigue and constipation. A person may use opioids in combination with other pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Other drugs, such as antidepressants and antiseizure medications, can also treat certain types of pain.
Doctors can also prescribe medications for nausea and vomiting. Some drugs for treating nausea can make a person drowsy. However, these drugs may help people eat and drink more or simply make it easier for them to function and interact with other people.
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How Much Do Anastrozole And Exemestane Lower The Risk Of Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that both anastrozole and exemestane can lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who are at increased risk of the disease.
In one large study, taking anastrozole for five years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 53 percent. In another study, taking exemestane for three years lowered the risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by 65 percent.
The most common side effects seen with anastrazole and exemestane are joint pains, decreased bone density, and symptoms of menopause .
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2018.
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What Exactly Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer
In the simplest terms, a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosiswhich is often referred to as metastatic breast cancer or terminal breast canceris the disease in its most serious and life-threatening form, according to the American Cancer Society .
Stage 4 breast cancer refers to the spread of breast cancer beyond the area of the breast and surrounding lymph nodes,Debu Tripathy, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, tells Health. The more common sites of spread include the bone, lung, liver and brain. It’s important to note, however, that when breast cancer spreads to another area of the body, like the bones or lungs, it does not become bone or lung cancerit’s still breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute .
Stage 4 breast cancer is an uncommon initial diagnosistechnically called de novo metastatic breast cancer, it’s only found in 6 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses. Instead, metastatic breast cancer often emerges months or years after someone has already completed treatment for an initial breast cancer diagnosis in an earlier stage.
My Social Worker Suggested That I Reframe My Thoughts
Change your thoughts around to make the situation easier to mentally deal with. When we assume we are dying of cancer, all treatments and side effects will seem worse. This was my experience.
My social worker suggested that I reframe my thoughts around living with cancer instead. It does take a long time, but most days, I do not feel gloomy about it.
The second piece of advice if you want a natural mood booster is walking. I walk approximately an hour a day, always outside, even if cold and snowy. I believe the fresh air and exercise aid my sleep and any side effects I may get from ongoing treatment, and boosts my overall mood.
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Myth #: The Mental And Emotional Experience Of People With Mbc Is The Same As That Of Earlier
People with MBC report hearing comments such as, At least you have a good type of cancer, Arent you glad so much research on breast cancer has been done?, Fortunately you have so many options. These might comfort people with early-stage breast cancer, who can look forward to one day finishing treatment and moving on but people with MBC dont have that luxury. They know they will be in treatment for the rest of their lives. They also know that their life is likely to be shorter than theyd planned.
Mentally and emotionally, people with MBC have a completely different experience. For them, the whole ringing the bell idea does not work, says Dr. Gupta. I have patients who are coming in once a week and have to plan their lives around their treatment. The whole pink brigade idea is very upsetting to them.
Fortunately, more and more people with MBC are speaking up and calling attention to how their experience differs from that of people with earlier-stage breast cancer. People with MBC live with cancer always in the background of their lives, but with new and emerging therapies, many are living longer and maintaining their quality of life.
Clearly, the experience of metastatic breast cancer is quite different from early-stage breast cancer. But there are so many patients who understand just what youre going through. Read more about Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer and join our discussion forum for people with stage IV/metastatic disease.
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.
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What Affects Survival
Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.
The type of cancer and grade of the cancer cells can also affect your survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.
Your general health and fitness also affect survival, the fitter you are, the better you may be able to cope with your cancer and treatment.
Another factor that can affect survival is whether the cancer cells have receptors for particular cancer drugs.
What Is A 5
A relative survival rate compares women with the same type and stage of breast cancer to women in the overall population.For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of breast cancer is 90%, it means that women who have that cancer are, on average, about 90% as likely as women who dont have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
There are many different signs and symptoms of breast cancer, so regularly checking your breasts for anything different or new is important.
The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. Getting to know what your breasts look and feel like normally means its easier to spot any unusual changes and check them with your doctor. Common breast cancer signs and symptoms include:
- A lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit. You might feel the lump, but not see it.
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
- A change in skin texture i.e. puckering or dimpling of the skin
- A change in the colour of the breast the breast may look red or inflamed
- Rash, crusting or changes to the nipple
- Any unusual discharge from either nipple
Almost half of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer.
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Breast Cancer Now, one in 10 women have never checked their breasts for new or unusual changes. Meanwhile, a fifth of women check their breasts once every six months or less, while 13% do this once a year or less.
Asked what stops or prevents them from checking their breasts more regularly, almost half of women said they forget. This is concerning when most cases of the disease are detected because women have spotted new or unusual changes to their breasts.
Some factors are outside our control, including:
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