Metastatic breast cancer is when breast cancer spreads to another part of the body, such as bones, the lungs, the brain, or the liver. There is a lot of misinformation about metastatic breast cancer, so we will clear up some common misconceptions.
#1. Metastatic breast cancer is curable.
Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to cure metastatic breast cancer. Still, treatments can typically keep it controlled for substantial periods. However, people with metastatic breast cancer will need this treatment for the rest of their lives.
#2. A metastatic breast cancer diagnosis means a shorter time to live.
There is a difference between incurable, stage IV, and terminal cancer. Though metastatic breast cancer can shorten your life, it is not an immediate death sentence – even if cancer has spread to your brain. With proper treatment, you can live a relatively normal life.
#3. Metastatic breast cancer treatment is more aggressive than earlier-stage breast cancer treatment.
Earlier-stage breast cancer is treated more aggressively than metastatic breast cancer because the treatment goals differ. Because metastatic breast cancer is incurable, treatment aims to control it. The goal of earlier-stage breast cancer treatment is to destroy the cancer cells.
#4. You’ve done something wrong if you are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
There is a belief that you can always catch stage IV cancer early and that breast cancer develops in the order of stage I, II, III, and IV. People also tend to believe that a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis means you have skipped your screenings, weren’t eating healthy enough or chose the wrong treatment option when treating early-stage breast cancer. The truth is that 20-30% of people with earlier-stage breast cancer will develop metastatic breast cancer, and nobody can say why.
#5. When you have metastatic breast cancer that travels to your ___, it becomes ___ cancer.
Once it is breast cancer, it is always breast cancer – even if it travels to different parts of your body. The characteristics of cancer cells can change, but it will still be breast cancer.
Greenville Women’s Care is here for you, whether scheduling your yearly mammogram and OB/GYN appointment or if you have questions or concerns about your overall health, we are just a phone call away. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call us at 252-757-3131.