10 Life-Saving Metastatic Breast Cancer Facts
1. Metastatic (pronounced like met-ah-STA-tic) breast cancer refers to stage 4 breast cancer, which originates in the breast, but spreads as cancer cells break away from the primary breast tumor and take root and grow in different parts of the body typically the bones, and major organs like the liver, lungs and brain.
2. Approximately 155,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed and living with metastatic breast cancer. The disease is responsible for an estimated 40,000 deaths in the U.S. on an annual basis.
3. The majority of American deaths aren’t caused by the initial cancer of the breast they occur years later when the cancer returns and spreads to a major organ, such as the brain, lungs, liver, or takes root in the bones.
4. Metastatic breast cancer doesn’t target anyone in the population more than others according to gender or age. In fact, both men and women, young and elderly are regularly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
5. Approximately 20- to 30-percent of people initially diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will, at a later date, develop metastatic cancer, meaning the cancer spreads from the breast tumor and takes root in another area of the body.
6. Early detection is important for the survival of metastatic breast cancer. However, sadly, in many cases, catching breast cancer early doesn’t raise the chances of survival. That’s why survivors must be vigilant with regular check-ups with your doctor and mammograms as most cases of metastatic breast reoccur 10 or 15 years after the original diagnosis, treatment, and remission.
7. Metastatic breast cancer does not guarantee death. The initial breast tumor hardly ever causes a fatality. Death is more likely to occur once cancerous cells metastasize and spread from the breast to a vital organ.
8. As mentioned, treatment for metastatic breast cancer is essential to ensure the cancer doesn’t reoccur. Doctors recommend that metastatic breast cancer survivors undergo a physical exam and a review of symptoms with your primary doctor every 6 months for the first 2 to 5 years following successful treatment. Physical exams can then be reduced to once per year from then on. Annual mammograms are encouraged every year for the rest of your life.
9. The treatment options for metastatic breast cancer depend on a number of individualistic medical factors, including:
- Breast tumor features or type
- Location of the metastases
- Size of the metastases
- Extent of metastasis within the body
- The patients age
- Current health including symptoms, other conditions, and past cancer treatments.
10. Surgery is rarely used to treat metastatic breast cancer due to the spreading fashion of the cancer cells, which makes them hard to remove surgically. The most common treatments for metastatic breast cancer include:
Radiation therapy recommended for symptom and relief as well as to reduce the tumor size, particularly in cases of bone metastases.
Hormone therapy is recommended to shrink tumors in women patients with positive hormone receptors (ER+).
Chemotherapy is only prescribed when the patient isn’t suited for hormone therapy. Chemotherapy works to kill cancer cells and reduce tumor size, and to prevent the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.
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