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Once cancer spreads, it can be hard to control. Although some types of metastatic cancer can be cured with current treatments, most cannot.

Definition of metastatic - NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms - National Cancer Institute

Even so, there are treatments for all patients with metastatic cancer. The goal of these treatments is to stop or slow the growth of the cancer or to relieve symptoms caused by it. In some cases, treatments for metastatic cancer may help prolong life. If you have been told you have metastatic cancer that can no longer be controlled, you and your loved ones may want to discuss end-of-life care.

Even if you choose to continue receiving treatment to try to shrink the cancer or control its growth, you can always receive palliative care to control the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment.

Understanding breast cancer metastasis

Information on coping with and planning for end-of-life care is available in the Advanced Cancer section. Researchers are also trying to find ways to disrupt the steps in the process that allow cancer cells to spread. Menu Contact Dictionary Search. Questions to Ask about Your Diagnosis. Types of Cancer Treatment. A to Z List of Cancer Drugs. Questions to Ask about Your Treatment.


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Understanding Advanced Cancer, Metastatic Cancer, and Bone Metastasis

Planning for Advanced Cancer. Advanced Cancer and Caregivers. Questions to Ask about Advanced Cancer. Finding Health Care Services. Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer. Reports, Research, and Literature. Consequently, research into metastasis is of vital importance in overcoming deaths from metastatic breast cancers.

Stage IV or metastatic breast cancer, as mentioned earlier, are cancer cells that have spread from the breast to distant sites around the body. Common secondary sites are: A positive attitude may not solve everything, but it will annoy enough people to make it worthwhile! Remember, these figures are still quite dated as it takes 5 years to determine survival rates and treatment is improving all the time.

Breast Cancer Metastasis: Secondary Sites

However, although the 5 year survival rates are much higher for earlier stages of breast cancer at diagnosis, there is no predicting which cases will progress to metastatic breast cancer in the future. Although it is important to be realistic regarding survival of metastatic breast cancer, each individual situation is unique and ultimately, statistics are meaningless. However, it is difficult to predict who will fall into this group. All that is known is that people in this group have secondary spread to the bones. Furthermore, the cancer is often estregen positive and responds to hormone treatments.

This is one of the most anxiety-provoking factors for many women after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. It is very difficult to predict how many breast cancers of all stages recur, at local, regional and distant sites. Indeed, breast cancer incidence and mortality rates are documented over the years.

However, data on most cancer registries do not document incidence of recurrence. Furthermore, a local or regional recurrence does not have the same prognostic impact as a distant metastasis. Even more difficult to handle, is that the cancer can recur at any given point in time. Are there any statistics on Recurrence rates or incidence of Metastasis? As mentioned, it is very difficult to find statistics on metastatic breast cancer that has recurred after an initial diagnosis.

Most of the statistical data on Stage IV or metastatic breast cancer is from those women presenting at diagnosis. Funny you should ask that. I have a new post on the alkaline diet with lots of research and here it is.

How Cancer Spreads

A note from Dr. However, there are many other factors at play and treatment has advanced so much that recurrence rates may have even halved since then.

Justine's Story - Brain Metastatic Melanoma

It is safe to say that much more data and research into metastatic recurrence rates would be of huge value towards a long-term cancer cure. Indeed, it has also been suggested that research into the rare group of women who survive many years with metastasis may be of equal importance to understanding recurrence and patterns of breast cancer. Now that is the million dollar question. What are the chances of breast cancer recurring?

Despite huge advancements in breast cancer screening, early detection and treatment, a percentage of breast cancers will recur and spread to distant sites. Although at the moment, it is almost impossible to say which cancers will recur and at what time period from diagnosis, there are a few factors that are known to increase the risk for recurrence. Furthermore, the number of lymph nodes affected remains a prognostic factor too with the more lymph nodes affected, the poorer the long-term prognosis. A medical study from China examined 2, patients with breast cancer, all of whom had adjuvant chemotherapy following surgery.

Treatment for metastatic cancer aims to slow the growth or spread of the cancer.

What is metastatic cancer?

Treatment depends on the type of cancer, where it started, the size and location of the metastasis, and other factors. Typically, metastatic cancer requires systemic therapy, or medications given by mouth or injected into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body, such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Other treatments may include biological therapy , radiation therapy , surgery , or a combination of these.


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  • Even if the cancer has stopped responding to treatment, many therapies can ease side effects and improve quality of life. Palliative treatments, which may be the same treatments used to treat cancer, aim to relieve symptoms and side effects. We offer specialized treatment programs for cancers that spread to the brain , bone , liver and other areas.

    Learn more about how we treat cancer. Get tips for coping with advanced cancer. View our patient survival rates, along with quality of life, patient experience and quality and patient safety results. Discover what makes our hospitals different. Metastasis Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells to new areas of the body often by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.