Metastatic breast cancer is stage 4 breast cancer. It is also known as advanced breast cancer. Cancer that has spread beyond the area of the body where it first began is usually referred to as “metastatic.” The term “localised” refers to the type of cancer confined to its primary area.
Even after the initial diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer can recur in another area of the body months or even years later. This is referred to as a distant or metastatic recurrence. The metastatic illness affects over 30% of women with early-stage breast cancer. Men are also diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, though it’s unclear how frequently because the percentage is very low.
When do people get a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis?
Multiple factors can lead to metastatic breast cancer. About 6% of women & 95 of men already have metastatic breast cancer when diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. So people experience a Distant recurrence of cancer. This is most frequently discovered after the initial breast cancer treatment
. Even years after the initial diagnosis and treatment, cancer may return and spread to a different area of the body.
What causes breast cancer to spread?
Metastatic cancer typically develops when all cancer cells are not removed by treatment. Sometimes, a few cells are hidden and undetected or remain inactive. Then, for unknown reasons, the cells multiply and spread again. This malignancy spreads in the absence of treatment. There is nothing that can be done to stop cancer from spreading. And it does not spread to other body parts because of something you do.
How is metastatic breast cancer diagnosed?
Making a specific treatment plan requires having a comprehensive understanding of where breast cancer has spread. To identify both localized and advanced breast cancer, your medical team will most likely combine the following exams and devices:
- Ultrasound examination: This imaging method combines sound waves (also referred to as ultrasound waves) to produce a picture of the internal areas of the body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This process uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create precise images.
- Blood Chemistry Studies: In this procedure, a blood sample is drawn to determine the levels of specific compounds secreted by your organs and tissues. A higher or lower concentration of a particular chemical could indicate an illness.
- Breast biopsy: A biopsy removes cells or tissues to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist. A biopsy most likely verified the initial diagnosis of breast cancer in you.
Treatment options for metastatic breast cancer
Treatments for metastases aim to lessen symptoms, reduce tumor size and progression, and enhance the quality of life. When one therapy stops working or the side effects get too uncomfortable, the course of treatment may need to change. Most people use multiple treatments in combination to fight cancer rather than just one. The four major divisions of drug-based therapies are as follows:
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drugs
Treatment for breast cancer can be more effective the earlier it is discovered. The prognosis is often better when cancer is discovered and treated sooner. Find out from your doctor when you should start getting mammograms and breast exams regularly. And never give up your hope because you are not alone in your fight!