Breast Cancer & Cosmetic Surgery | D B Ghosh

Metastatic Breast Cancer

What is Metastatic Breast Cancer in Lymph Nodes?

Metastatic breast cancer: what you need to know

Metastatic breast cancer (stage 4, advanced breast cancer) presents a unique challenge because it means cancer cells have spread from the breast tissue and nearby lymph nodes to other body parts, such as the lungs, brain, liver, and bones. The metastatic breast cancer stage demands aggressive treatment strategies from specialist breast cancer treatments. We can provide these at our Practice.

How is the metastatic breast cancer stage different from other stages?

In the metastatic stage, cancer cells have ventured beyond the breast and lymph nodes, reaching distant tissues or organs like the liver, lungs, bones, and brain. The metastatic stage sets it apart from earlier, focusing mainly on treating the local tumour to prevent further spread. Thankfully, treatments like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery are often more effective during these earlier stages. While metastatic breast cancer is considered incurable, advancements in immunotherapies and targeted treatments have significantly improved outcomes and extended survival for many patients.

Recognising symptoms

Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary. Symptoms usually depend on which organs or tissues are affected. You might experience few to no symptoms initially, but they can include:

    • Bone metastasis: Look out for fractures, bone pain, and swelling. Increased calcium levels may lead to constipation, nausea, confusion, fatigue, and excessive thirst.
    • Liver metastasis: Symptoms may include jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, or unexplained weight loss.
    • Lung metastasis: Watch for shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent cough, or coughing up blood.
    • Lymph node involvement: Swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the neck, armpit, or chest area, could be a sign.
    • Brain metastasis: Seizures, headaches, dizziness, vision and speech difficulties, balance problems, or personality changes may occur.
    • General symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and weakness might also be present.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to consult a breast cancer surgeon for proper evaluation. However, remember that these symptoms can also stem from other medical conditions unrelated to cancer.

Is metastatic breast cancer curable?

Metastatic breast cancer isn’t curable, but treatment aims to manage symptoms, control cancer growth and spread, and enhance your quality of life. Fortunately, advancements in treatments like immunotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapies, targeted therapies, and radiation therapy have boosted survival rates for many patients. Survival duration varies based on factors like tumour characteristics, extent of cancer spread, overall health, and treatment effectiveness. Sometimes, we can manage metastatic breast cancer as a chronic condition, meaning some patients can live with cancer for years.

Dealing with metastatic breast cancer is undoubtedly challenging, but ongoing advancements in medical research and treatments offer hope. Many patients are living longer and improving their quality of life. If you’re facing this journey, know that you’re not alone. Expert care is available to support you every step of the way.

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