Breast Cancer Review

Stage IV Breast Cancer

This stage of breast cancer is characterized by detection of cancer in a part of the body that is distant from the breast. The tumor can be any size (T0-4) and into any number of lymph nodes (N0-3) near the breast. In Stage 4 breast cancer (Stage IV), the distinctive feature that sets it apart is the presence of cancer in lymph nodes that are in the neck or in another organ of the body, such as the liver, bone, brain or lungs. At this point, the disease is termed “metastatic breast cancer.” This term is used even if the cancer is in another organ, like the liver, for example.

The symptoms of Stage 4 breast cancer (Stage IV) may not show up until the disease is progressed. If there are symptoms, however, the woman may exhibit one or more of the following: weight loss, lack of appetite, headaches, weakness, bone pain, dry cough or shortness of breath.

The existence of a metastasis may be established at the time of initial discovery of breast cancer or it can be part of a recurrence of breast cancer at a later time, after the initial treatment is over. If Stage 4 breast cancer (Stage IV) is found, treatment will be much more aggressive than for the other stages and will depend on the many facts discovered during the staging process. Treatment can vary widely and is not the same for every patient. A woman with metastatic breast cancer must seek as much information as possible and must weigh all of her options.

Treatment may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or various combinations of all. The goals are to prolong life and to relieve pain and symptoms. Clinical trials are constantly reviewing new treatment options and are slowly moving forward toward cures for advanced breast cancer. Seeking the best professional advice at this time can be both reassuring and rewarding.

It is important to note that 16% of Stage 4 breast cancer (Stage IV) patients survive for over five years and achieve submission of the disease. With treatment advances, the outlook for these women can only improve with time.

Breast Cancer Resources

American Cancer Society

People Living With Cancer

United States National Library of Medicine

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Health Coverage from Health Insurance .org

WebMD Health

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

National Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Foundation

Breastcancer.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healing Well.com

Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Women’s Information Network Against Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Prevention.com

Cancer News On the Net

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition

Mothers Supporting Daughters With Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Online

National Breast Cancer Coalition

Breast Cancer Fund

Breast Cancer Action

Breast Cancer Care

Breast Cancer Campaign

Cancer BACUP

Canadian Breast Cancer Network

Breast Cancer Society of Canada

Breast Cancer Action – Ottawa

Info Breast Cancer

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

National Breast Cancer Centre

National Breast Cancer Foundation

New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute


Early Warning Signs
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