Breast cancer is usually contained to the breasts. However, in some cases, people develop metastatic breast cancer which simply means that the tumor has spread to other areas like the liver, lungs, or bones. Also known as stage 4 breast cancer, this condition often develops after initial treatment at an earlier stage because cancer cells are likely to survive various treatments and spread to other parts. In understanding this particular form of cancer, it is important to delve a little bit into breast cancer statistics to get a fuller picture.
Most Common Areas Affected by Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic Breast Cancer Symptoms
Cancer is easy to detect at an early stage, but sadly, most of the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer never show until the condition has advanced significantly. Additionally, metastatic breast cancer symptoms are unique to the region under attack, making them even easier to miss. Here are some common signs that might suggest metastasized cancer:
- In the lungs, it causes difficulty breathing as well as shortness of breath.
- Metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the liver causes nausea, weight loss, loss of appetite, fluid buildup in the abdomen, and even pain.
- Stage 4 breast cancer makes your bones brittle and causes them to ache a lot.
- This ailment causes dizziness, blurry vision, seizures, and trouble balancing if it reaches the brain.
Experts encourage women in the U.S. to get mammograms early in their lives to detect trouble before it is too late. This ultimately leads to lower metastatic breast cancer diagnosis rates in the U.S. in comparison to other countries where women rarely get mammograms.
Those who have been diagnosed and received treatment for an early stage cancer are at a higher risk of developing metastatic cancer. In fact, metastatic breast cancer statistics suggest that 30% of women diagnosed with lower-stage breast cancer likely develop recurrent, advanced or metastatic breast cancer. However, national estimates for this are unclear as cancer research centers fail to keep records on metastases and cancer recurrence.
How Many People Get a Diagnosis Annually?
Statistics estimate an annual diagnosis count of at least 155,000 individuals in the United States. Of these, about 40,000 die every year. According to the same breast cancer statistics, approximately 6% of breast cancer cases diagnosed in the country are metastatic.
Who Gets Metastatic Breast Cancer?
- The elderly – Age increases one’s odds of developing breast cancer. Black women are at a higher risk even before reaching 45, but the danger among Caucasian women only heightens between 60-84 years of age. While age is a major risk factor, young people are also at risk.
- Men – Gender also plays a part as evidenced by the fact that men rarely get it. Because of its rarity, men rarely go in for mammograms which means that cancer might have already spread by the time it is detected in their breasts.
- People of African Descent – Your ethnicity might increase the chances of cancer spreading to other organs. Black women tend to suffer more in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts.
What Are the Costs Involved?
One study reports that it costs a patient $128,500 on average to go through treatment. The main chunks of the payments go into:
- Chemotherapy: 25%
- Other medication: 26%
- Inpatient care: 20%
- Outpatient care: 29%
Metastatic Breast Cancer Statistics on Survival Rates
While this is an incurable condition, patients do tend to live a long and healthy life with proper treatment. Breast cancer statistics indicate that 22% of all women with stage 4 breast cancer live on for at least 5 years, but individual survival rates vary according to:
- Overall health and performance status
- Prior therapies
- Time passed since first treatment
- Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status
- Hormone receptor status
- Site affected
Despite it being a terrifying diagnosis, there are effective ways you can improve the quality of your life;
- Early diagnosis might seem like courting trouble, but when it comes to cancer you’d better detect it before it has spread. It ensures that you get the appropriate treatment that is not too harsh but enough to deal with the problem in advance. Honoring appointments with your doctor for regular checkups might save your life.
- Your doctor will work out the best treatment plan for you. You must follow his instructions if you are to lead a comfortable life. And while this treatment plan might not be a cure, it will surely minimize symptoms, make life more comfortable, and extend your lifespan.
- Keep an open and positive mind as there are new therapies and treatments being tested out to help patients with this condition. Feel free to try different approaches with guidance from your oncologist.
- Lifestyle changes might help you cope better with this condition and contribute to prolonging your life. Exercise, proper diet, and reduced alcohol and tobacco intake all contribute to better health and make your cells grow healthier. Sugar is cancer’s best friend so consider sugar-free options that will nourish healthy cells and starve cancer cells.
- Should you choose alternative medicine, tread very carefully and do so under your doctor’s supervision. Herbs, acupuncture, yoga, or meditation might offer some relief, but caution is necessary if things are to work. Your doctor must be aware of your choices to help you deal with various issues. For instance, an interaction of different substances with your medications is a big issue that your doctor can only address if he’s in the loop.
The Gist of Breast Cancer Statistics
Whatever you do, remember that early detection of cancer doesn’t guarantee a cure or that it will not spread. Some people are already at stage 4 by the time of diagnosis calling for thorough measures to improve their lives. This condition affects different patients in a unique fashion which explains why there are no definitive prognostic stats for it. Metastatic breast cancer is not a feat one can cope with on their own, so always visit a physician whenever there is a problem.
Treatment is lifelong as it involves several steps to make you healthier and increase your lifespan despite the damning diagnosis. The approach differs according to the region under attack, the extent to which the tumor has spread, and previous treatments. You need to choose the right facility with an experienced and compassionate staff who will offer all the support you will need in this journey. By understanding the condition and having a positive attitude, you can, indeed, live for many years after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.