We know you really don't want to be here, reading about breast cancer recurrence or metastasis. If you've had breast cancer, the possibility of recurrence and spread (metastasis) of breast cancer stays with you. You may be here because you fear this possibility. Or you may be here because it's already happened.
Keep in mind that a recurrence of breast cancer or metastatic (advanced) disease is NOT hopeless. Many women continue to live long, productive lives with breast cancer in this stage. It is also likely that your experience with treatment this time will be somewhat different from last time. There are so many options for your care and so many ways to chart your progress as you move through diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.
Because there are so many options, this is a long section. You may want to read just a few pages at a time. You might find it very difficult to concentrate, think straight, and remember what you've read. That's natural when you're anxious, uncertain, overwhelmed...
Oncologists at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium learned about several studies that will help them make decisions about the best treatments for people with metastatic breast cancer .
Surgery for Stage IV women. In the years I have participated in support groups for breast cancer, one of the questions that pops up frequently has been why a woman whose cancer has spread beyond her breast would not have a mastectomy. Almost everyone else with breast cancer has a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. It seems like this group of women whose cancer has reached the most serious stage would need to have the source of their cancer removed.
The standard answer has been stopping chemo or other systemic treatments long enough to do surgery would allow the cancer in a woman’s vital organs to have a chance to grow. There is even a school of thought that removing the original tumor somehow spurs its daughters elsewhere in the body to greater growth....
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