Life Expectancy Of Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Survival Rate With Metastatic Breast Cancer
Many people wonder about the life expectancy for stage 4 breast cancer . It’s important to note that everyone is different and survival rates vary widely. There are some people who survive many years and even decades with stage 4 disease. At the same time, it’s important to understand that stage 4 breast cancer isn’t curable.
It can be helpful to look at current statistics and consider the many variables that affect life expectancy. While it’s important not to raise false hope, it may help to know the reality that there are some long-term survivors.
Some people want to know the statistics, but many don’t. If you’re living with stage 4 breast cancer, there is absolutely no requirement that you know the prognosis. The information provided here is only for those who truly wish to know what the current research iseven this research has many limitations.
How To Handle Emotions
Coping with the many symptoms that can occur with stage 4 breast cancer can be frustrating and discouraging, and people sometimes wonder if they will have to feel poorly the rest of their lives. Anxiety and depression are also severe for some people with advanced disease.
Fortunately, palliative care team consults are now offered at many cancer centers. While hospice is a form of palliative care, palliative care can be helpful even with early, curable tumors. Working with a palliative care team to address physical and emotional issues frees you up to work with your oncologist on issues that treat your cancer specifically.
While the research is also young, it appears that those people who receive palliative care consults not only have a better quality of life with advanced cancer, but they may actually live longer, too.
Factors Associated With Short
Prognostic factors associated with the probability of short-term survival as an outcome were assessed using logistic regression analysis . Factors significantly associated with increased odds that a patient was classified as STS were older age at enrolment , non-white race, serum albumin , recurrent MBC, and metastasis to the CNS. Conversely, factors associated with increased odds that a patient was classified as LTS included ER+ or PgR+ disease, metastasis to bone and/or breast or node/local sites , first-line trastuzumab use, and first-line taxane use. Prognostic factors associated with OS in all the treated patients were also assessed using Cox PH analysis . All of the factors that were associated with increased odds that a patient fell in the STS class in the logistic regression analysis were also associated with an increased risk of mortality in the Cox PH analysis. However, in contrast to the logistic regression analysis, in the Cox PH model, an ECOG performance status of 2+ was associated with an increased risk of mortality , 2.022, 95% CI: 1.4342.851).
Cox proportional hazards model for overall survival. Abbreviations: CI=confidence interval CNS=central nervous system CVD=cardiovascular disease ECOG=Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group ER=oestrogen receptor HR=hazard ratio PgR=progesterone receptor.
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Can Stage 4 Breast Cancer Go Into Remission
Stage 4 breast cancer can go into remission, meaning that it isnt detected in imaging or other tests. Pathological complete remission indicates a lack of cancer cells in tissues removed after surgery or biopsy.
But its rare to take tissue samples while treating stage 4 breast cancer. This could mean that although treatment has been effective, it hasnt completely destroyed the cancer.
Advances in stage 4 breast cancer treatments are helping to increase the length of remission.
Being Your Own Advocate
While there aren’t currently any studies looking at self-advocacy and survival, being your own advocate can’t hurt in maximizing your survival. Oncology is changing rapidly and it’s difficult for any oncologisteven those who specialize in breast cancerto stay aware of all of the latest research and clinical trials taking place.
It can be helpful to research your cancer yourself. Becoming involved via social media such as Twitter is also an excellent way to learn about the latest research, using the hashtag #bcsm, which stands for breast cancer social media.
Getting a second opinion can be helpful as well, especially from one of the larger cancer centers such as a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.
There are ways to learn about opportunities, however, that don’t require traveling for opinions. There are now clinical trial matching services in which a nurse navigator can help to match your particular tumor and characteristics with clinical trials in progress all over the world.
Several of the larger cancer centers are now also offering remote second opinions, in which an oncology team can review your medical information and talk to you on the phone about whether there are any opportunities for treatment for you that may not be available elsewhere.
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What Doesn’t Affect Survival
Just as there are factors associated with a better or worse prognosis, there are some factors that do not appear to make a big difference. These are generally less understood by the general public:
- Aggressiveness of treatment
- Having a positive attitude
The goal of treatment for metastatic breast cancer is often very different than that of early-stage disease, and this can raise anxiety among patients and loved ones of patients. With early-stage breast cancer, the goal is usually to be aggressive in order to reduce the risk that the cancer will come back.
In contrast, with stage 4 disease, the goal is usually to use the minimum amount of treatment possible to control the disease . Studies have found that more aggressive treatment does not improve survival rates but does reduce quality of life.
While having a good attitude may improve your sense of well-being, it has not been shown to affect survival rates. In fact, holding in negative emotions in order to appear positive may be detrimental to your health in general.
Study Links Diabetes And Worse Outcomes In Long
Women who are longer-term survivors of metastatic breast cancer may have a worse survival rate if they have diabetes and poorly controlled blood sugar levels, according to a study presented at ENDO 2022.
The authors of the study point out that a well-established relationship between diabetes and breast cancer exists, but its still unclear how diabetes affects breast cancer outcomes. This study aims to determine the impact/ association of diabetes and hyperglycemia on cancer progression and mortality in individuals with metastatic breast cancer, the authors write.
This is the first study to specifically examine the effect of blood sugar control on cancer outcomes in patients with advanced breast cancer, according to lead researcher Y.M. Melody Cheung, MD, of Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The researchers studied 488 patients with metastatic breast cancer 244 with diabetes and 244 without. The study found that overall survival at five years was similar between the two groups. However, among those who survived at least eight years after their cancer diagnosis, survival for those without diabetes was better than those with diabetes . In these longer-term survivors, survival was also better among those with good blood sugar control compared with those with poor blood sugar control .
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Prognosis For Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer isnt the same for everyone who has it. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, your symptoms at stage 4 will depend on the degree to which the cancer has spread in your body.
Although metastatic breast cancer has no current cure, it can be treated. Getting the right treatment can increase both your quality of life and longevity.
Life expectancy for breast cancer is based on studies of many people with the condition. These statistics cant predict your personal outcome each persons outlook is different.
The following factors can affect your life expectancy with metastatic breast cancer:
Is Stage 4 Breast Cancer Curable
Theres currently no cure for stage 4 breast cancer, but with treatments it can be kept under control, often for years at a time.
People with metastatic breast cancer need to receive treatments for the rest of their lives. If a certain treatment stops being effective, another treatment regimen may be tried.
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Baseline Characteristics Of Patients
A comparison of baseline clinicopathologic features between the two groups showed that DFI was significantly longer in long-term survivors than in non-long-term survivors . The proportion of luminal-type tumors was significantly higher and the proportion of triple negative tumors was lower in long-term survivors than in non-long-term survivors . The proportion of patients who received metronomic regimens as the most effective regimen was significantly higher in long-term survivors than in non-long-term survivors . Unexpectedly, the most effective regimen was administered in later lines in long-term survivors compared to non-long-term survivors , while the number of chemotherapy regimens for breast cancer was not different between the two groups . Other factors including age, number of disease sites, tumor grade, HER2 status and prior anthracycline and taxane administration were not different between the two groups.
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For Family And Friends
Caring for a loved one with stage 4 breast cancer has special challenges as well. Fortunately, organizations such as CancerCare now offer support groups design for loved ones who are caring for someone with cancer. In addition to caring for yourself , it’s helpful to learn about metastatic breast cancer.
Common things that people learn about cancer usually refer to an early-stage disease, and myths about metastatic breast cancer can be painful for those living with advanced disease. For example, one of the things not to say to someone with metastatic breast cancer is, “When will you be done with treatment?”
For the most part, people with metastatic breast cancer will require some type of treatment for the rest of their lives.
Symptoms Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The symptoms of stage 4 breast cancer depend on the location of the cancer and where it has spread in your body.
- If breast cancer has spread to your bones, you may notice a sudden new bone pain. Breast cancer most commonly spreads to your ribs, spine, pelvis, or arm and leg bones.
- If it has spread to your brain, you may experience headaches, vision or speech changes, or memory problems.
- Breast cancer that has spread to your lungs or liver usually causes no symptoms.
The main treatments for stage 4 breast cancer are targeted drug therapies that destroy cancer cells wherever they are in your body.
These treatments may include:
- hormone therapy, which stops or slows the growth of tumors by preventing your body from producing hormones or interfering with the effect of hormones on breast cancer cells
- chemotherapy, where drugs given orally or through an IV travel through your bloodstream to fight cancer cells
- immunotherapy, which uses drugs that stimulate your immune system to destroy cancer cells
- a combination of these therapies
The following are the common treatment options for different types of stage 4 breast cancer.
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Treatment Starts With Hope
Sofia Merajver, M.D., Ph.D., medical oncologist and scientific director of the Cancer Centers breast oncology program, approaches each patients cancer individually and does not think predictions make sense until treatment begins.
Joses treatment plan included four rounds of chemotherapy, which reduced her 5-centimeter tumor to undetectable.
I wanted to immediately convey to Heather that wed have a long road together, including the medical center helping her family get through this challenge. Thats why I wanted to know about her husband and family members, says Merajver. In addition to giving her confidence that weve seen her disease before, a first step is to begin to recruit the social support the patient needs.
Because Joses cancer had spread, she knew not to expect to be cured. She had a double mastectomy, received radiation therapy and joined a clinical trial to receive two stem cell transplants. There have been several recurrences over the years, but each has been managed as treatment progresses for metastatic breast cancer.
The goal for me is to hear that my scans are stable. Stable means good, Jose says.
Evaluation Of Therapeutic Efficacy
Tumor responses were assessed by physical examination and computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging or bone scan according to the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors every two to three months during treatment. Complete response was defined as the absence of evidence of disease, partial response was defined as a reduction in the product of the two largest perpendicular diameters of the target lesions by 50% or more, and progressive disease was defined as an increase in tumor size by 25% or more or the presence of a new lesion. Clinical response that did not meet any definition described above was classified as stable disease . Clinical outcomes examined in this study included time to treatment failure , defined as the duration from initiation to discontinuation of treatment, time to progression , defined as the duration from initiation of treatment to disease progression or death of any cause, overall survival , defined as the duration from initiation of treatment to death of any cause, and objective response rate . Toxicity was assessed according to the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria, version 3.0 .
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Treatment Decision Guided By Circulating Tumor Cell Count May Improve Long
Patients whose treatment was guided by measurement of tumor cells in the blood had improved survival outcomes.
The use of circulating tumor cell count to guide the choice between chemotherapy and endocrine therapy as first-line therapy for patients with metastatic, estrogen receptor -positive/HER2-negative breast cancer provided overall survival benefit, compared with physicians choice of treatment, according to data from the STIC CTC trial presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held December 6-10, 2022.
The validity of CTC count has been studied extensively in metastatic breast cancer in the past two decades, and we and others have previously demonstrated its clinical validity as a biomarker of prognosis, said study presenter François-Clément Bidard, MD, PhD, a professor of medical oncology at Institut Curie and Versailles Saint-Quentin University, Paris, France. We hypothesized that the CTC count could drive and help standardize the difficult treatment decision between endocrine therapy, which appears more suited for patients with good prognosis, and chemotherapy, which may benefit patients with worse prognosis.
We anticipated that most patients would have their treatment unchanged, while some would have their treatment escalated from endocrine therapy recommended by investigators to chemotherapy based on high CTC count, or vice versa, de-escalated from chemotherapy to endocrine therapy if their CTC count was low, said Bidard.
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Recurrence Of Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer is considered a chronic disease, so it doesnt go away and recur.
But in recent years, people under age 50 have seen a particularly strong decline in death rates due to breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
These declines are due in part to improved screening and treatment for the disease.
There are a few general facts that are helpful to know about breast cancer outlook:
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in the United States, according to the
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Triple Negative Breast Cancer
With this type of breast cancer, the breast cancer cells dont have ER+ or PR+ receptors. They dont overproduce the HER2 protein, so hormone therapy isnt very effective.
Instead, triple negative stage 4 breast cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy may also be an option, depending on the site of metastasis.
Finding The Can In Cancer
The American Cancer Society originally told Matthews breast cancer story in the Stories of Hope section of our website in 2005. She had been diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at age 33. At the time, Matthews husband and 2 sons were dealing with their own health problems. If that wasnt hard enough, they went on to face job losses and financial problems.
In her determination to stay positive, Matthews adopted a personal mantra, one she still embraces today. What finding the can in cancer means to me is theres something good even around all of the terrible things, said Matthews. Everything is happening for a reason. We may not understand it now, but we will. Matthews says the tough times have made her the person she is today. When youve gone through lots of bad things you get really good at dealing with them, said Matthews.
Back in the 2000s, Matthew spread cheerful messages and shared her story through journal entries that she emailed to family and friends. She tried to be a role model for other survivors, to demonstrate that having cancer does not mean the end of hope. Later she relied on social media to communicate her insights about staying positive through tough times. These days she uses live video to send messages several times a week to a group of about 40 women.
I reassure people who are going through a divorce or whove lost a job. I have a way of communicating with them that gives them something to think about, said Matthews.
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