Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer, also popularly referred to as breast cancer stage IV. There are five stages of breast cancer from step 0 where the breast cancer cells have not affected the lymph nodes. The cells have not formed tumours and can only be detected under the microscope.
The Occurrence of Metastatic Breast Cancer
For some, metastatic breast cancer is detected in the first diagnosis, in the USA, about 6% of women diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time have metastatic breast cancer.
Statistics have also shown, metastatic breast cancer may also reoccur years later after one has completed treatment. However, it is always important to remember individuals respond differently to medications, and the recurrence of the cells also varies.
Also, the method of treatment used is determined by several factors; they include:
- In the stage of initial diagnosis, if the cancer was detected early on at stage I, then the treatment is different from breast cancer detected at stage IV.
- The treatment used for the initial diagnosis will help maintain consistency, which will, in turn, reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer.
- The features of the cancer cells
- Another factor is the symptoms and signs of breast cancer.
- The number of lymph nodes affected.
- Finally, another critical determining factor for treatment is other areas affected by breast cancer cells.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment
- After identifying the number of lymph nodes affected by the stage of breast cancer and the features of the cancer cells. The oncologist may opt for hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is necessary if the cancer cells are hormone receptor-positive.
- For HER2 –positive cancer, the treatment used is anti-HER2 medication.
- If breast cancer is PD-L1-positive, then the treatment used is an immunotherapy drug used together with a chemotherapy drug paclitaxel.
- If the size of the tumor is large, then the doctors may recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- Radiation helps to reduce the size of the growth and lowers the growth rate. Another advantage related to pollution is it helps in easing the symptoms.
Despite the many advantages of the various treatment, metastatic breast cancer treatment also has side effects that may affect one’s quality of life.
What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?
Having metastatic breast cancer, unfortunately, takes time to get cured, however, this does not mean that one cannot get cured. And through breast cancer at the early stages is easy to treat, invasive breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body posing a larger threat.
Also, it is okay to seek medical advice from other doctors. But most importantly remember everyone’s journey is different and always stays positive.
Follow Up After The Treatment
With the increasing number of people who have breast cancer, research organizations are now coming up with alternative treatment options to help reduce recurrence and increase one’s survival rate.
Thus important to always visit your doctor even after successful treatment.
Besides the inventions in medications that help prevent a relapse, other reasons why one need to visit the doctor after treatment regularly include:
- Tackle the issue of drug resistance, unfortunately for some, the drugs are no longer active, and this may lead to intense growth of the cancer cells.
- Another reason one needs to follow up is determining the response of the cells to the treatment. For instance, after chemotherapy, it is expected that the size of the tumor reduces and the signs are eased.
- Visiting your oncologist will help determine if the radiation helped to reduce this size and also helps to identify the responses of the body.
Additionally, as previously mentioned, different patients respond differently to different educations, thus crucial for a regular check-up as this helps identify any positive or negative changes in the growth and spread of the cancer cells.
- Monitoring also helps patients to deal with stress and anxiety. Over the years, cancer has been ranked as one of the major leading causes of death across the globe. And in addition to lowering one’s quality of life, the treatment cost and time may take a toll on some patients as well as family members.
It is therefore essential to meet up with your doctor and receive updates on your progress as well as get counseling from a health provider.
Also, find new hobbies and interests that will help you deal with the latest changes in your body.
Effects Of Metastatic Cancer
- One of the significant adverse effects of metastatic cancer is it may be untimely cause death.
- Detecting breast cancer cells early on has been seen to increase one’s survival rate.
- However, when the cells have attacked other parts of the body, the survival rate decrease increasing one’s chance of death.
- Lowers one quality of life, since metastatic breast cancer has affected other organs, a person’s overall productivity is affected.
- This may be due to stress or a reduced immune system.
How to Deal With Metastatic Breast Cancer?
After seeking treatment, one should join a support group. A support group helps you deal with stress and anxiety. Also joining a support group will not only benefit the patient but is an excellent move for family members and friends.
To offer the best care for our loved ones, it is always important to be in a sober state as well, and this will significantly help in improving the response to treatment and be better caregivers.
Always eat and stay healthy, though breast cancer medication plays a big part in restoring one’s health. What you eat also influences the immune system, so always remember to eat healthily, exercise, and most importantly stay hydrated. This will not only improve one’s response to the medications but will also increase the chances of a full recovery.
A metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is a lot, but despite the many studies showing the survival rate, it’s essential always to remain positive and remember everyone’s recovery journey is different.