Stage 4 breast cancer is characterized with abnormal mutation or cell growth in the cells of the breast. The symptoms may range from a change in the size of the breast, the formation of a lump, inverted nipple, changes to the skin of the breast, blood oozing from a nipple and more.
The staging of breast cancer is a system that is used by doctors for identifying the extent to which the cancer has spread. Once the testing is done, the doctor allocates a number, which is between 0 and 4, expressed through Roman numerals. This numbers indicates the extent of spread of the cancer all over the body.
This kind of breast cancer is invasive. It may originate in the tissues, ducts or breast glands and move beyond the lymph nodes and breast.
The cancer becomes stage 4 when treatments fail to prevent the growth and spreading of the cancer.
Type 4 breast cancers is considered as the last stage in which the cancer has spread to different areas of the body including the liver, brain, bones, lungs and lymph nodes.
The diagnosis of this stage of cancer is done with the help of certain staging tests after a series of X-rays and blood tests and imaging tests including CT scan, PET scan and MRI. The stage is based on the volume of tumor and spread of cancer to other parts of the body.
Prognosis of Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that women at stage 4 of breast cancer have a survival rate of 20% when it comes to surviving for 5 years. As a result of the complications which take place with the spread of the cancer, the rate of survival is too low.
Options for Treatment
The treatment options for stage 4 breast cancer comprise hormone therapy, chemotherapy or no therapy. Biological therapies are becoming common these days and they are often combined with clinical trials and surgery. You should decide to pursue treatment further on the basis of the physician’s estimate of survival along with chances of recurrence. Since the after effects of the modes of treatment can be fatal for the sufferer at this stage, you may choose not to pursue further treatment.
Chances of Survival
The last stage of breast cancer is widely considered incurable. While the other stages of the disease may be battled with improved research and surgical techniques, diagnosis of the most advanced form remains depressing as well as daunting.
Nevertheless, progress has been made. While the patients at the advanced stage may have to get ready for the worst, there is also reason for hope and optimism.
Breast cancer is second only to skin cancer in terms of its occurrence in women. At this stage, the cancer has spread beyond the breast and the lymph nodes, affecting other organs such as lungs, liver and brain. After metastasis or the spread of cancer, the chances of a cure are considerably lowered.
Due to the low rate of survival, the focus of treatment may allow patients to live as long as the symptoms can be managed. The trends of treatment and medications have improved and the number of women surviving for up to 5 years has increased.
It has been seen that a high dose of chemotherapy cam significantly improve the condition of a few patients suffering from stage 4 breast cancer. This has been noted in the experiments conducted and research is still in progress about why certain patients respond well to the high dose therapy as compared to the others.
A number of women suffering from a very advanced stage of breast cancer tend to be afraid of their condition as a result of the scary statistics. However, there is every possibility of misunderstanding these figures. For example, it is a fact that women who live up to 95 years have 1:8 chance of having breast cancer.
However, studies have shown that when aged 40 years women have 1:1200 chances of developing cancer in the succeeding year and 1:120 chance in the next 10 years. Whatever their age, any woman can be diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Men also share the risk which proves that this is not a female disease.