Breast Cancer happens when cells in the breast tend to grow out of control. These cells generally grow a tumor that you oftentimes get to see on an x-ray machine or feel it as a lump. The tumor is malignant if the cells invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body which is commonly known as Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Breast Cancer occurs entirely in women, but men too can get it. The stage of breast cancer is an important factor to decide its treatment.
Treatment of Breast Cancer (Stages I-III)
Most of the women having breast cancer in stages I, II, or III are treated with surgery which is often followed by radiation therapy. Many women also get drug therapy. In simple words, the more cancer has spread, the more treatment you are likely to receive. But, your treatment choices are affected by your personal preferences and other information about your breast cancer, such as:
- If the cancer is ER-positive or PR-negative
- If the cancer cells have a large amount of the HER2 protein
- How fast the cancer is spreading
- Overall Health
- If you are menopausal or not
What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?
Metastatic Breast Cancer has another name which is Stage IV cancer. It has already spread to other parts of the body, most commonly, liver, brain, bones or lungs. Cancer cells can break away from the original tumor in the breast and travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system.
Breast Cancer can also come back in another part of the body months or years later after the diagnosis and treatment. So, nearly 30% of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer develops metastatic disease.
Symptoms of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The symptoms of this deadly cancer fluctuate, depending on the location of cancer:
- Constant back, bone or joint pain.
- Difficulty with urinating. This can be a sign that the cancer is pinching the nerves present on your back.
- Numbness and weakness anywhere in your body.
- A constant dry cough.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Abdominal bloating, pain or tenderness.
- Constant nausea, vomiting or weight loss.
- Severe headaches.
- Vision problems(blurry vision, double vision, loss of vision).
- Lots of balance.
Is there any cure for metastatic breast cancer?
So, when we address about metastatic breast cancer, we normally suggest that cancer has spread to distant organs (stage IV) which is not commonly considered treatable.
However, there has been an ignition of several brand-new therapies for metastatic breast cancer recently. In fact, if you look at recent trials, it is surely seen that multiple subsets of this cancer have an average survival of longer than 4 years and more.
If “cure” hints that the patient is disease-free i.e in complete remission and no longer needs any therapy, then the most convincing front-runner for the tomorrow is cancer immunotherapy.
While numerous targeted therapies have delivered astonishing improvements in metastatic breast cancer endurance, currently most of these demand to be granted for a lifetime.
On the other hand, laboratory data show that immunotherapy may be competent in generating “true cures” where the patient can terminate therapy after some point. Hence, this is an area of ongoing research and is likely to explode with ever advancing data in the upcoming five to ten years.