The prognosis for stage 4 breast cancer depends on the severity of the disease and the patient’s response to the treatment. Though a life-threatening condition, breast cancer can be cured completely, with early detection and proper treatment…
One of the deadliest diseases known to man is cancer. This disease can affect any individual at any point of time, without any warning. Even small children are not spared of this debilitating health disorder. Unfortunately, no drug to cure cancer has been discovered yet and every year people fall a victim to this deadly disease. There are many types of cancer which affect individuals of all age groups and races. Breast cancer is one such life-threatening disease that affects women, especially above 50 years of age. Though it can affect both men and women, it is more common in women as compared to men.
What is Breast Cancer?
As mentioned earlier, women who are 50 and above are more likely to suffer from breast cancer due to various reasons. In breast cancer, which is also known as malignant breast neoplasm, the cells multiply at an abnormal rate and spread quickly, hence affecting the nearby healthy tissues. Breast cancer is of two types, depending on the area where they occur – ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma. Ductal carcinoma, as the name suggests, occurs in the ducts or tubes that carry the milk from the breast to the nipple. Most of the women suffer from ductal carcinoma in situ breast cancer. In lobular carcinoma, the cancerous cells are found in the lobules, where milk is produced, and spread to other parts of the breast.
Breast cancer is mainly caused if there is an excess of estrogen hormone in the body, which can trigger the growth of breast cancer tumors. Breast cancer can be invasive (tendency to spread to other parts of the body) or non-invasive, which is often referred to as in situ. DCIS breast cancer is non-invasive in nature, but can become invasive if not diagnosed and treated on time. Breast cancer can be felt like a small, hard outgrowth in the breast region. If there is a family history of breast cancer, or if a defective gene is inherited from the parent, such women are more prone to breast cancer as compared to other women. There are four stages of breast cancer categorized on the spread of the cancerous cells and the severity of the condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The early stages of breast cancer do not exhibit any symptoms, which makes diagnosis tough. However, as the cancer advances, it can be diagnosed with the help of the symptoms. Given below are some of the breast cancer symptoms, observing which the exact stage and severity of the breast cancer can be detected.
- There is a formation of a hard lump in the breast, which can be felt while taking a bath. Breast pain and tenderness can also be observed as early symptoms of breast cancer.
- A change in the size and color of the breast or nipple can be noticed. In some cases, the areola may resemble an orange peel.
- Secretions from the nipple, which may be colorless or bloody in appearance.
- Some other signs of breast cancer in women may include unexplained weight loss, chest pain right below the breast bone (or sternum), swelling of the arm, generalized body weakness, etc.
Treatment and Prognosis for Stage 4 Breast Cancer
If you have a family history of breast cancer and notice any of the above symptoms, visit a doctor as soon as possible to rule out any further complications. Before administering breast cancer treatment, the doctor may perform some diagnostic tests like a physical exam, blood tests, MRI or CT scan, mammography, etc., to check for the exact condition. The patient may also have to undergo biopsy, where a tissue from the affected breast is taken and examined. If the tests come out positive, which means that you have breast cancer, then the doctor may perform some other tests, in order to determine the stages and metastasis of the disease. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are administered to destroy the cancerous cells and prevent them from spreading further. In some cases, lumpectomy (removal of the lump) may be performed. In case the cancer has metastasized, then the patient may have to undergo mastectomy, which involves the surgical removal of the breast, to avoid recurrence.
Stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer prognosis is determined by taking several factors like age of the individual, the health condition, the stage at which the cancer was diagnosed, and the patient’s response to the treatment, into consideration. The stage 4 breast cancer survival rate and life expectancy has improved, thanks to development in medicine and technology. In order to prevent complications of this life-threatening disease, early detection plays a key role. Breast self exams and a routine visit to the doctor can help prevent the breast cancer from becoming severe and can also be cured, if it is in the initial stages. There are also many breast cancer awareness groups, which help patients suffering from breast cancer and also spread the awareness about this disease.
Though breast cancer research for proper treatment is still in process, stage 4 breast cancer life expectancy of an individual can be prolonged with the help of medication and radiation therapy. Take care!