Metastatic breast cancer is a progression of cancer to other areas of the body. This aggressive form of cancer, which is also referred to as advanced cancer or stage 4, can spread if the initial cancer treatments were not successful.
There are several ways that breast cancer can spread throughout the body, and they all occur if cancer cells:
• Produce new tumors
• Travel in the bloodstream
• Invade and replicate in normal cells
• Move into tissue
One of the main symptoms that Arizona State University online nursing degree professionals say is a sign of metastatic breast cancer is confirmation that cancer has spread to a nearby area of the body.
The symptoms of lung cancer are often non-existent, but if the patient does experience symptoms, they usually suffer from chest pain, the coughing up of blood or shortness of breath.
In a patient that notices an increase in headaches, nausea, vomiting or changes in their vision, cancer may have possibly spread to the brain.
A diagnosis of liver cancer usually occurs after an individual has complaints of a rash, itchy skin, yellowing of the skin and eyes and a loss of appetite.
If cancer spreads to an individual’s bones, the person may experience swelling, moderate to severe pain and compression of their spinal cord. A decline in mobility and an increase in bone fractures are also common symptoms.
Although these are these are the common symptoms of stage 4 breast cancer, online RN to BSN degree nurses stress the importance of patients not self-diagnosing nor ignoring these symptoms.
Different treatment regimens can be used for patients with metastatic breast cancer. However, the treatment that is used will be dependent on the type of cancer the patient has, or the hormone receptor status of the patient.
Almost two out of every three breast cancer cases have positive results for these hormone receptors. The patients are then diagnosed as Progesterone receptor positive breast cancer or Estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer.
Hormone therapy can help to lower progesterone and estrogen levels in the body, and this therapy can also be used to block these hormones’ effects on the patient’s body. This type of treatment is generally used when a patient has ER-positive breast cancer. Chemotherapy and surgery to remove the cancerous cells are also treatment options for patients.
What is the Outlook?
Again, the outlook for the disease is dependent on the type of cancer the patient has. It will also depend on where cancer has spread to and how much of the area is affected. The predicted survival rate is up to two years, but the time-frame varies. In fact, the ACS (American Cancer Society) has released several reports that have shown over 20 percent of patients with metastatic breast cancer have survived over five years after treatment.
This shows that people may live productive lives after a diagnosis and treatment regimen. However, it always best to speak with your physician regarding your specific circumstances.
This is a guest blog entry.