Breast cancer that spreads outside the breast to other organs of the body is called metastatic breast cancer. It can also be called stage IV or advanced breast cancer. Although metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured, it can be treated.
Receiving a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer can be devastating. You’re processing a lot of information and dealing with many emotions. You may feel overwhelmed and scared. However, there are new and ongoing scientific discoveries improving metastatic breast cancer treatment and offering hope to many. Today, women with metastatic breast cancer are living longer. As research continues and treatment improves, so does survival.
The answers to the questions below may help you talk openly with your health care provider about what treatments are best for you and about quality of life issues. This may help you feel in control and feel better prepared to face the challenges ahead.
Q: Where else in my body has the breast cancer been found?
Q: What is my prognosis (chances for survival)? What is my cancer sub-type? What does that mean to me?
Q: What additional tests (such as a biopsy) will I need and how often? Why? Are there any risks with any of the tests?
Q: What are my treatment options? What options do you suggest for me and why?
Q: How long do I have to make a treatment decision?
Q: What are the possible side effects of this treatment(s)? How long will they last?
Q: Are there clinical trials I should consider? If so, how can I learn more?
Q: What lifestyle changes do I have to make? Will I have a “new normal?” If so, what might that be?
Q: Should I expect to have any pain? How can I manage my pain? Will you refer me to a pain specialist?
Q: Where can I find a metastatic breast cancer support group? What support is available for my family?
Q: If treatment needs to end, who will guide me on this decision? Who will help me with end-of-life care?
Here at Komen CSNJ, we are dedicated to ending breast cancer forever, and we are here for those that need guidance, support and help. Visit our website at komencsnj.org for more information.