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3 Frequently Asked Questions: Resources and Support for Breast Cancer

Posted Oct 17 2013 4:18pm

If you, or someone close to you, have been diagnosed with metastatic cancer you will need extra help and resources, and all the support for breast cancer you can get. Metastatic breast cancer develops when cancerous cells move out of the breast area and into other parts of your body like the brain, lungs, liver or bowels. This kind of cancer is also known as stage IV cancer. A second cancer that develops in one or both of the breasts or in the lymph nodes is not the same however. If you want to know more about the disease and how it affects the body, here are three frequently asked questions to understanding it better:


1. What Is The Prognosis?


A metastatic breast cancer diagnosis can be very unsettling because it is thought to be incurable. However, treatments are improving all the time and women with metastatic breast cancer are experiencing longer lifespans and seeing an improvement in their quality of life all the time. If you are diagnosed, you can expect to go through lifelong treatment which may involve hormone treatment, radiation or chemotherapy.


2. When Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Diagnosed?


Only about 6% of cases are diagnosed for the first time at stage IV. By this stage, you may have started experiencing shortness of breath or pain, which might have sent you to the doctor. Sometimes the diagnosis is made during a PET or CT scan. The majority of women who develop metastatic cancer will be diagnosed much later, which could range from months to years, than the initial early stage cancer treatment.


3, What Causes Metastatic Cancer?


Why certain cancers evolve into metastatic cancer is still currently unknown. Research is being conducted into microbiology and the genetics behind it. Researchers are still trying to uncover what makes some forms of cancer grow in certain parts of the body, why it progresses so aggressively and what the most effective forms of treatment are. Women are advised to have their regular checkups and stay attuned to any changes in their bodies. Anything unusual should be taken up with your doctor. If you need more support, there are a number of helplines available to offer information and advice, as well as provide with referral information or support groups to help you cope through what can be a very trying time in your life. Sometimes, you just need some non-medical attention and support from people who have been in your position before.

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