Stage 4 Breast Cancer
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Video: Breast Cancer Survivor NicoleBreast cancer survivor Nicole talks about her experience with CTCA. The treatments she experienced can treat anyone with breast cancer - from a stage 1 to stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis - and help them survive.
Breast Cancer Survivor Nicole
Listen to breast cancer survivor Nicole recall the compassion and support she experienced at CTCA.
Stage 4 breast cancer means the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body. The affected areas may include the bones, brain, lungs or liver, and more than one part of the body may be involved.
Although at this stage survival rates are typically lower than for other stages of breast cancer, women diagnosed with stage 4 disease can live for many years. Several stage 4 breast cancer treatment options are available, including numerous clinical trials in which new therapies are being investigated.
At stage 4, TNM designations help describe the extent of the disease. Higher numbers indicate more extensive disease. Most commonly, stage 4 breast cancer is described as:
- T: T1, T2, T3 or T4, depending on the size and/or extent of the primary tumor.
- N1: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
- M1: The disease has spread to other sites in the body
Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Women who are diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer have several treatment options. Because the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, focused treatments like surgery and radiation are not an option. Stage 4 breast cancer treatments may include:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the main treatment for stage 4 breast cancer. These drugs can kills cancer cells and slow down the growth of the cancer. Chemotherapy is often given in combination with hormone therapy or immunotherapy.
- Hormone Therapy: For women whose cancer cells test positive for estrogen and/or progesterone receptors, hormonal therapy can help eliminate cancer cells from the body. These drugs prevent the tumor from getting the hormone it needs to grow. For women with stage 4 breast cancer, hormone therapy is given in combination with chemotherapy.
- Immunotherapy: When the cancer cells contain excess amounts of the HER2 protein receptors, immunotherapy with an anti-HER2 drug may be recommended in combination with chemotherapy to help kill cancer cells and slow down the growth of the cancer.
- Clinical trials: Many clinical trials are open to women with stage 4 breast cancer. Enrolling in a clinical trial may give you access to new therapies. Your doctor can provide information about ongoing studies that may be available to you.
- Additional care: Many drugs are available to help ease pain and the side effects of stage 4 breast cancer treatment. Your doctor can discuss treatments for nausea, vomiting, fatigue and infections.