You can survive breast cancer if it is detected early in its growth stage. When breast cancer is found in stage III or later, the chances of full recovery and survival are reduced dramatically. Breast cancer that has spread to other areas of the body is called metastatic breast cancer.
Defining Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer is a stage-IV breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer, which is a stage-IIIB cancer, can quickly spread to other areas of the body. When breast cancer moves past the breast tissue and past the lymph nodes under the arm, it can travel via blood vessels to bone, lung, liver or brain. Secondary cancer tumors will develop as cells collect in the new areas.
A mammogram and ultrasound will be performed to locate all affected areas. A surgical biopsy, either a lumpectomy or mastectomy, will be performed to remove the tumor. Chemotherapy will begin to control or kill the cancer cells.
Your physician may recommend additional surgery and/or radiation therapy for localized treatment. Additional chemotherapy may be recommended to follow up the surgery or radiation. The purpose of additional chemotherapy is to limit the chances of recurrence. If your cancer is estrogen, progesterone or estrogen/progesterone receptive, you may have hormone therapy to inhibit the recurrence of cancer.
Survival rates for metastatic breast cancer are not as good as breast cancer that was caught in an early stage. Conditions that affect your survival rate are:
Your physical condition
Progression of the disease
Options available to you
Your choice of how you want to treat your cancer
Your physician may not be able to tell you accurately how long you will live after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Some physicians will tell the patient that they will try to control the spread of the cancer and make every attempt to give the patient a better life for living.
The average survival rate has increased from 18 months in the 1980s to approximately 24 months currently. For a large number of metastatic breast-cancer patients, that is not good enough. With diet changes and new drug treatments, there is good news. Stage IV metastatic breast-cancer patients can have a five-year survival rate of 20 percent.
There are clinical trials that offer hope for stage-IV breast-cancer patients. These trials incorporate experimental drugs and other therapies to provide research toward a cure for breast cancer. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you can inquire to various breast-cancer research centers about open trials.
Breast cancer is every woman's worst nightmare, and early detection can be your best friend. Each year breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 182,460 women. Approximately 40,480 women are expected to die each year from breast cancer. It is the No. 1 form of cancer women develop and second most common cancer that kills women behind lung cancer.
Monthly self exams, yearly physicals and regular mammograms according to the age recommendations will increase your chances of finding breast cancer early. If you notice a lump or change in the appearance of your breast, make an appointment with your physician immediately. Many women make the mistake of downplaying changes in their breasts only to find out later complete recovery could have been possible with early detection.
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