Facts About Metastatic Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a deadly condition that affects women. It becomes extremely serious when it reaches stage 4, also known as metastatic breast cancer. These are the warning signs to look for.
The five-year survival rate when a woman is diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is only 22%. Aggressive treatment is the best way to try and survive beyond this five year timeline.
Spread of Breast Cancer
Usually, it will take years before the cancer spreads to the other parts of the body. This is the reason why when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, the survival rate is high. However, once the cancer beings to spread it puts every part of the body at risk. Some body parts and organs are more prone to contract cancer that has metastasized like the brain, liver, lungs, and bones.
Symptoms of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Just like any other cancer, extreme fatigue also happens with metastatic breast cancer. This happens regardless of a having 8 hours or more of sleep. The feeling of being drained still remains. Exhaustion is very common even doing little things like opening the door or walking. This extreme tiredness is nonetheless a common symptom of metastatic breast cancer.
Sudden Weight Loss
Unexplained weight loss often happens with metastatic breast cancer. This is caused by loss of appetite and muscle deterioration. Cancer decreases the urge to eat and by the time it affects the liver your weight can drop even more.
Mental health issues such as depression are very common for most cancers. The best way to manage it is find support from loved ones and even health professional as needed.
When Breast Cancer Spreads to the Liver
There is an intense pain of the abdomen once breast cancer metastases to the liver. Considering that the abdomen is affected, vomiting can also happen. Furthermore, the skin may also turn yellowish.
When Breast Cancer Spreads to the Bones
When cancer cells reach the bones, they will become weak and brittle. You may even suffer from fractures or other bone injuries including broken bones.
Metastases to the Lung
Lung metastases is often a gradual progress. Chronic cough and mild difficulty of breathing might be the first few symptoms which can result to fluid buildup in the lungs. When this occurs, breathing can be confined.
Metastases to the Brain
The brain is not always affected by the spread of cancer. When it does, it can surely cause panic to the patient. There will be symptoms such as dizziness, pounding headaches, seizures and even personality changes.
Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The first treatment option is usually chemotherapy. Powerful drugs are used to kill cancerous growths and shrink the tumors.
Most would agree that this treatment method is effective but has its disadvantages like feeling depleted and drained after each session. The reason for this is because the chemotherapy drugs can damage both the cancerous and healthy cells.
This treatment option is somewhat like chemotherapy because it also makes use of a potent drug. This is intended to stop the growth of cancer cells. Targeted therapy is only focused on attacking cancer cells and not the healthy cells. A patient will not feel exhausted after this treatment like they do after chemotherapy. Some of the side effects of this treatment include high blood pressure and blood clotting.
When breast cancer has already metastasized to other body parts, radiation therapy is prescribed. Increased dosage of radiation works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells.
During the process, healthy cells can also be damaged. The body will use most of the patient’s energy in order to rebuild the affected surrounding tissue. It is recommended to add calories to the diet. Your doctor will recommend certain food items that can help in the treatment process.
Oftentimes, surgery goes hand in hand with radiation therapy . Surgery removes the tumors while radiation therapy is used to stop tumors from returning.
The side effects of this method is pain and infection. About three to four weeks may be required to heal.
It can definitely be challenging to live with metastatic breast cancer. With proper knowledge, there is still hope to recover. Keep in mind that researchers continue to search for better ways to treat it.