October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and to the lymph nodes, bones and sometimes the vital organs. Cancer is spread through the blood stream to other parts of the body.
Treatment for metastatic or advanced breast cancer is very different from that for early-stage breast cancer, which hasn’t spread beyond the breast. Surgery is not the first option for treatment for those with metastatic breast cancer.
Targeted therapy is used to focus on the area causing the cancer to spread. High hormone levels are what feed breast cancer, and the goal is to stop the spread of the breast cancer with therapy that will lower the hormones and stop further spreading. Early detection is still important, even if diagnosed at the advanced stage.
People who are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer usually have shorter lifespans than those without.
Metastatic breast cancer is not curable, only controllable. Treatments cause many side effects, including losing one’s hair, nausea, depression and more. One only has to look up the information to find out that many more are diagnosed with MBC than other types of cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 40,000 people die each year of breast cancer and they all die of metastatic breast cancer.
Even today, when newer treatments are available than were years ago, prognosis depends upon treatment, and how one views their quality of life, which becomes their main focus 100 percent of the time. People go on living with MBC, getting past treatments, depression and how their families will deal with not only the diagnosis, but the fact that the affected person might not be able to do everything that they used to. Today, a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer does not have to mean the end of one’s life.
Oct. 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and the ribbon is pink, teal and green.
Alison Pinsley, Coconut Creek