What is metastatic breast cancer?
Known as advanced breast cancer or stage IV cancer, metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced breast cancer stage. At this point, the breast cancer has spread to many other parts of the body, such as the brain, liver, bones, lungs, and many others. Even if it spread to other body parts, this is still called breast cancer and treated adequately. That’s something to consider, as it might feel a bit strange to call it breast cancer even if it went to other body parts.
When does metastatic breast cancer occur?
Normally metastatic breast cancer will appear when a woman already has breast cancer, and which is locally advanced. The breast cancer cells will remain in the body even after a primary breast cancer treatment. They were there, to begin with, but they were dormant in the beginning. Since they are not active, these are a lot harder to identify. That means it’s also more challenging for you to figure out where and how they can start, where they appear from, and so on.
What are the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer?
One thing to note about metastatic breast cancer is that its symptoms will differ a lot based on where the cancer was spread, to begin with. If the chest or breast wall is affected, then you will have symptoms like nipple discharges, pain, and lumps, and so on. When the metastatic breast cancer spreads to the bone, then symptoms will include fractures, less alertness, and a constant state of pain. On top of that, when it spreads to the lungs it will bring in fatigue, chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, and many other issues like that.
Metastatic breast cancer can also reach the nervous system, in which case it will lead to memory loss, pain, seizures, blurred vision, headaches, memory loss, as well as many others. If it affects your liver, you will have symptoms like yellowing skin, fatigue, nausea, and so on. As you can see, the metastatic breast cancer symptoms can differ quite a lot from one person to the other. That’s why you need to understand them and identify how to eliminate these as fast as possible. Once you do that, it will make the entire process a whole lot easier and more convenient.
How does the metastatic breast cancer spread?
Normally, it will start invading the healthy cells, and when it takes over it will replicate the cancerous cells. It can also penetrate the lymph system and the circulatory system. When it reaches your blood or lymph, that’s when things get serious since these cells can go anywhere in your body. That makes it a lot harder to spot and identify the best way to get rid of it. While it will be hard to identify it, trying any kind of treatment will make a huge difference and that’s exactly what you need to go for here. Also, even the new small tumors will grow, to the point where it can become a massive issue.
What are the treatments for metastatic breast cancer?
One thing to note about metastatic breast cancer is the fact that it does have multiple treatment options. It works great and it will offer you a simpler, better way to obtain the results you expect. With that in mind, the most important aspect here is to understand the pros and cons of every treatment.
- Breast cancer surgery will help remove the tumor from your breast. You can also have a mastectomy, which is basically the surgical removal of all breast tissue.
- Targeted therapy helps because it allows you to use medication that will lower the amount of HER2 gene in your body. It will remove the energy supply from the cancerous cells, which can be a good option to focus on and results can be very impressive.
- Immunotherapy will rely on checkpoint inhibitors. These will help block the PD-L1 receptors and this will prevent any possible immune response. It’s a metastatic breast cancer treatment that works great for some patients, so it’s certainly worth trying out at the very least.
- Radiation therapy is focused on delivering radiation where the tumor is removed. Radiation is retained in the tumor cavity and it won’t damage your organs.
- Hormone therapy will bind the estrogen receptors to certain drugs, thus making it harder for the breast cancer cells to do any type of damage.
- Chemotherapy is very helpful, it will eliminate many breast cancer problems, and it’s recommended before you choose any type of surgery.
Metastatic breast cancer prognosis
One thing to note is that the metastatic breast cancer survival rates will differ from one person to the other. Around 33% of the women that have a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis will live 5 years after the diagnosis. However, some even go well beyond the 10-year mark. It all comes down to how fast you will identify the problem and attempt to cure it. It is better to start treating the cancer faster and don’t allow the cancerous cells to spread. So that your chances of survival are increased exponentially.
Do you need to change the drug therapies?
That normally depends on the oncologist, but for the most part, you will stick to a certain drug therapy. If there are no improvements or you feel worse, then the oncologist will either increase the dosage.He/She can also opt for another medical treatment. The oncologist might also opt for certain blood tests for tumor markers. This will just make it easier to identify the next step during the process.
It’s very challenging to deal with metastatic breast cancer. This is because it is the final stage of breast cancer and it’s extremely dangerous. But with the right treatment, you will be able to eliminate most of the concerns. The best thing that you can do in a situation like this is to try follows the oncologist’s guidelines and pursue the right treatment.