Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment options for Metastatic Breast Cancer to extend life and improve quality of life. Although there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there are numerous treatment choices that can help patients live longer and healthier lives. Breast cancer treatment has progressed substantially in recent decades, which helps to explain why most breast cancer patients have such a long life expectancy. However, someone who has metastatic breast cancer, which is an incurable, advanced stage of the illness, will have a slightly different treatment experience.
Here’s everything you need to know about metastatic breast cancer treatment options, including how to both prolong a person’s life with the disease and manage any symptoms.
What is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body?
Breast cancer that has gone beyond the breast and associated lymph nodes to other parts of the body is known as metastatic breast cancer. Stage 4 breast cancer is another name for it. It’s the most advanced type of breast cancer, and there’s no cure for it.
According to specialist, a medical oncologist at Northwestern Medicine, metastatic breast cancer can travel to any part of the body, but the most prevalent locations are the bones, lungs, liver, and brain. Doctors aren’t sure why breast cancer has a preference for specific areas, or why some cancer subtypes spread to those locations more than others, he says.
What is the treatment for metastatic breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a condition that is extremely difficult to understand. As a result, if a patient is diagnosed with metastatic cancer, there are numerous factors that influence treatment. Treatment is influenced by the cancer subtype (such as hormone-receptor positive breast cancer, HER2-positive breast cancer, and triple-negative breast cancer), as it is with earlier-stage breast cancer, according to Cancer Specialist. If someone doesn’t have hormone-sensitive cancer, for example, you wouldn’t offer them estrogen-blocking medications to treat it. According to him, certain genetic variables can also influence treatment.
The treatment is then highly individualized, taking into account all of these various characteristics. However, based on a patient’s specific situation, clinicians can use some very general principles of care. Here’s a rundown of the various types of therapies for metastatic breast cancer.
Who is responsible for breast cancer treatment?
Different sorts of doctors may be on your treatment team depending on your treatment options. These medical professionals could include:
- A breast surgeon, often known as a surgical oncologist, is a doctor who treats breast cancer using surgery.
- A radiation oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer with radiation.
- A medical oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer with chemotherapy and other medications.
- A plastic surgeon is a specialist who specializes in repairing or recreating bodily components.
Physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, and social workers are all possible members of your therapy team.
How is the treatment for metastatic breast cancer?
- Hormone therapy:
According to Alberto Montero, MD, clinical director of the Breast Cancer Medical Oncology Program at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and an associate professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, these drugs are used to treat hormone-receptor (HR) positive breast cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, the cancer cells have receptors that interact with estrogen or progesterone and help them grow quicker. Hormone therapy medications work in a variety of ways to prevent cancer cells from gaining access to these hormones. Tamoxifen, for example, works by preventing estrogen or progesterone receptors from connecting to one other, decreasing the growth of the cells.
- Radiation treatment:
According to the National Cancer Institute, radiation treatment kills cancer cells by delivering high doses of radiation (think of it as a powerful X-ray). According to Dr. Tsarwhas, targeted radiation is utilized in metastatic patients to assist manage discomfort from bone lesions or to combat cancer that has progressed to the brain.
- Surgery treatment:
According to Dr. Taiwo, surgery is less commonly used to treat late-stage breast cancer because the purpose of surgery is usually to remove the entire cancer. When cancer has advanced to the point where it is metastatic, surgery isn’t really an option. “In some circumstances, we will consider surgery as a palliative requirement,” she explains. If someone has bone lesions that are causing pain or fractures, they may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for assistance in stabilizing their bones.
- Chemotherapy treatment:
Chemotherapy is what most people think of when they hear the words “cancer treatment,” according to the National Cancer Institute. Chemotherapy utilizes strong chemicals to kill or halt the growth of cancer cells, according to the NCI. It can also damage good cells, causing nausea, hair loss, lethargy, and other unpleasant side effects. Chemotherapy is reserved for fast-moving tumors or tumours that have progressed to the brain or liver in the metastatic scenario because of these severe adverse effects, according to Dr. Tsarwhas. As previously stated, it is frequently used in conjunction with immunotherapy to treat metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.
- Managing Treatment’s Visible Side Effects:
Some of the adverse effects of breast cancer treatment may be visible, which can be emotionally draining. There is, however, a lot you can do to conquer them, which will make you feel better.