Today is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day!
There are many people who undergo treatment and never have to deal with cancer again. A metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is different because it means you will actively deal with breast cancer for the rest of your life.
With metastatic breast cancer, the goal of treatment is to shrink or weaken the cancer, manage your symptoms and side effects and prevent the cancer from spreading further. Changes in treatment are made as the cancer grows or spreads to new places in your body. You and your doctors will talk regularly about progression, the growth of tumors or spread of cancer, and regression, decreases in tumor size or the cancer’s reach. When one treatment stops working, you and your doctors will look at new options.
Treatment for metastatic breast cancer has two main goals: to control the cancer for as long as possible, and maintain the highest quality of life possible.
At stage IV it is difficult to fully remove cancer with surgery or medicine because new tumors may appear over time, or cells may stop responding to different treatments. While metastatic breast cancer is not considered curable, it is possible to experience periods where tests show no evidence of disease, often called NED. While reaching NED may not always be possible, it is likely that you will have periods when the cancer does not grow. This is called stable disease.
Being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer can happen to anyone, at any time. Even stage I cancer can become metastatic. Years after completing treatment, someone with stage I cancer may learn the cancer is back and is now metastatic. The stages are meant only to predict your risk of recurrence.
While the main goal is choosing the treatment path that will get rid of tumors and outlying cancer cells in the most effective way, you and your doctors may also want to think about what you are willing to try and what you aren’t, so that you continue living the way you want to live.
(Content: mbcn.org Image: sandbox.ryot.org)
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