Like communicable diseases that transmit from person to person or through contaminated food or water, metastasis works in a similar way. It is a complicated process in which cancerous cells transmit from the affected organ into the other parts of the body causing metastasis tumor. Once metastasis has happened, it almost becomes impossible to treat the primary tumor effectively.
Do you know? In the United States, half of the affected women die out of breast cancer worldwide, out of which more than 90 percent of women die of breast cancer metastasis.
Let’s delve into breast cancer, its different stages and how breast cancer metastasis occurs.
Understanding the effect of Breast Cancer Metastasis
When cancerous cells become wild enough wanting more space for its existence, metastatic cancer occurs. In breast cancer metastasis, when breast cancer cells travel to other parts of the body, it is Stage IV breast cancer. Nevertheless, there are occurrences when metastasis is diagnosed at the time of original cancer.
Somehow, if metastasis is diagnosed months or years after the initial treatment, then it is more of ‘recurrent’ breast cancer.
How does a cancer cell spread from the breast to the other organs?
Like any other cancerous cells, breast cancer cells travel through the body and initially attack surrounding healthy tissues followed by blood vessels or lymph nodes. When breast cancer grows in the axillary lymph nodes in the armpits, then it is considered as the initial stage of metastasis and can relatively be treated.
However, it starts spreading further via the lymphatic system and affecting distant organs of the body.
Do you know? If a person is fortunate, then lymph node cancer can be recognized by swollen lymph nodes else only a biopsy can predict the presence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes, if no symptoms noticed.
What is ‘Distant’ Metastasis?
When the breast cancer cells travel to other parts of the body forming a tumor, incurable ‘distant’ metastasis occurs. Although, these ‘distant’ cancerous cells remain inactive for years with no symptoms at all.
When these breast cancer cells are metastasized beyond the lymph nodes, then the whole body is usually treated with chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. In such cases, the doctors aim at accelerating down the progression of cancer cells and controlling their signs.
What are the secondary sites of breast cancer metastasis?
As discussed earlier, metastatic breast cancer, also known as stage IV cancer, has the capability to spread to the distant organs as well. Anyhow, there are some secondary sites on which they commonly invade and they are:
- Bone: 70 percent of breast cancer cells metastasis to the bones.
- Surrounding lymph nodes
Breast cancer cells have the usual tendency to return after the initial diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, it is important to seek expert advice. India has skilled cancer specialists. Hence, it is advisable to contact a medical travel assistant company for budget-friendly medical treatment in India, an appointment with a team of the best cancer doctors in New Delhi. There are other metropolitan cities as well including Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad for the proper treatment at the well-equipped hospitals.
Can a patient survive with stage IV breast cancer?
With advancement in technology and treatment, the recent reports say that nearly 26 percent of women diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer have a five-year survival rate while 37 percent of women survive for three years after their diagnosis.
Do you know? Women, once, treated for breast cancer have a fear of its recurrence. Experts also say that 22 to 74 percent of women have its fear recurrence.
Yes, it is true that breast cancer can return whenever it wants. Irrespective of its stage, the types of cancer recurrence are:
- Localized: When cancer has returned to its origin.
- Regional: The comeback is at its surrounding lymph nodes, organs and tissues.
- Distant: When cancer has spread to distant organs such as brain, liver or lungs.
Although there is no particular statistics available, it is still said that nearly 20-30 percent of cases are diagnosed with breast cancer recurrences at stage IV.
Like any other cancer, metastatic cancer can also be treated with chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, etc. However, the choice of treatment totally depends on the type of tumor, size, location as well as the number of metastatic tumors. Also, the overall health of the patient, gender and age matter.
Experiments are on-going to discover new ways to kill the growth of primary as well as metastatic cancerous cells. Remember ladies out there, your health is in your hands. Hence, it is better to go for biannual health checks for your own sake!