Remission in Stage 4 Breast Cancer
You may know that breast cancer is categorized into stages according to the prognosis and nature of the disease. A diagnosis of stage 4 cancer (or metastasized cancer) usually means one thing. Your cancer has spread from its original point/organ to other parts of the body, making it harder to treat. Over a five-year period, the survival rate for stage 4 breast cancer is approximately 22 percent. As it currently stands, there is no cure for stage 4 breast cancer. However, getting a cancer diagnosis does not mean that you are at the end of the line.
Many patients with stage 4 cancer can live for many years if they access the right treatment. Certain treatments can prevent further spread of cancer or even cause its complete remission. This article is an analysis of stage 4 breast cancer recurrence and remission. Learn how to deal with metastasized breast cancer, coping with recurrence, and ensuring you maintain high-quality living despite the disease.
Breast Cancer Recurrence and Remission
While it’s always encouraging to hear your doctor say that your cancer is in remission, keep one thing in mind. It is important to know that remission does not necessarily mean that the treatment has cured you. Being in remission typically means that the doctors are unable to detect any signs of the disease from their tests. It may mean that the cancer is still in the body but in too small quantities to be detected. However, you may be among the few patients whose remission diagnosis means that you are, in fact, completely cancer-free. However, you can never be 100% confident that you will not experience recurrence.
On the other hand, with continued research and development of chemotherapy and other treatments, you may be among the many patients with stage 4 breast cancer whose disease does not recur. Moreover, there is a reason to be hopeful since advancements in stem cell therapy are increasing the time before the recurrence of cancer. While recurrence is a word you may not want to hear, having a stage four cancer diagnosis means you can never rule out local recurrence or metastasized breast cancer.
Development of a New Cancer
Cancer is one of the most frustrating and unpredictable of diseases. Your stage 4 breast cancer treatment may be a combination therapy that includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and cancer-removing surgery. However, while tests may show that your lymph nodes and breast tissues are free of any cancer cells, the cancer may occur in another tissue such as the lung. If your tests determine that the cancer cells in the lungs are the same type as those for which you were declared free of in the breast tissue, then you could have a case of breast cancer metastasis. In such a situation, even though the new cancer cells are in a different organ, the diagnosis will still be stage 4-breast cancer. Conversely, if the cells are of a different type from the breast cancer cells that you previously received treatment for, it means that you have developed two kinds of cancer.
Coping with Breast Cancer Recurrence
With all the frustrations and unpleasantness that you may have had to go through in stage 4 breast cancer treatment, it may be quite discouraging having it recur. However, it is important to remember that it is impossible to tell how the disease will respond to therapy. While it’s always good to remain positive, you need to be cautiously optimistic in regard to stage 4 cancer treatment. If you find yourself discouraged and searching for answers after stage 4 breast cancer recurrence, one of the best things you can do is joining a support group. Groups such as these may be of much assistance in coping with your frustrations, as stories of other patients whose cancer has recurred can inspire you. You may also find some useful tips on the best treatments available.
Consulting your oncologist on issues related to breast cancer recurrence and depressive symptoms can be particularly beneficial. The benefit of consulting the oncologist is that they may have information on clinical trials for new therapies, drugs, or procedures that may offer you hope, improve your control over the disease, or cure your cancer entirely.
While stage 4 breast cancer recurrence can be both heartbreaking and difficult to take. That said, it is important to note that cancer therapies are seeing tremendous improvements year after year. People living with stage 4 breast cancer have higher survival rates than ever before. Patients are also living better quality lives as research and advancements reduce side effects of cancer therapies. There is no certainty that you will experience remission. Similarly, you cannot guarantee that there will not be a recurrence.
Even with new developments in technology, we have yet to develop therapies that guarantee stage 4 breast cancer won’t recur. However, the quality of your life is in your hands in regard to stage 4 breast cancer remission and recurrence. One of the most important things that you need to do is be proactive about your health care. Proactivity in finding support groups, consulting your oncologist and reading all that you can about stage 4 breast cancer can ensure that you not only cope, but live well regardless of your condition.