The term metastatic is used to define cancer that spreads from the place of origin to other parts of the body. Metastatic breast cancer forms in the breasts but spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs such as the brain, lungs, or liver. In most cases, or rather in a majority of patients diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, there is no real cure for the disease.
The main aim of most metastatic breast cancer treatment options is to majorly slow down the rate of progression of cancer, ease out the symptoms, and ultimately help improve the quality of life. Local recurrence treatment options are different from metastatic breast cancer treatment options and will entirely depend on both the size and location of the tumor. The primary course of metastatic breast cancer treatment is to suggest therapies that are targeted to the affected parts. Additionally, they should only have a few side effects. There are two forms to these therapies: local therapies and systemic therapies. Local therapies focus treatment to a single area in the body, while systemic therapies are ones which impact the whole body in general.
Metastatic breast cancer treatment options
Most of the metastatic breast cancer treatment options are similar to the regular forms of treatments available for various stages of breast cancer. The major difference lies in the intensity of the medications used, its frequency, and the combination of treatments being suggested. Some of the most common forms of treatment are:
Chemotherapy is used to destroy the cancer cells through flushing medications through the system.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy targets spurring cancer growth and slows the rate of progression.
- Hormone therapy
This method uses medicines to shrink the growth of cancer and slow the rate of progression of the disease.
During surgery, the removal of the cancer cells, mass, or tumors are carried out.
- Targeted therapy
This is a specifically designed combination of medicines or hormones to deal with the cancer cells.
Usually, a combination of treatments may be prescribed as an aggressive approach. But the ultimate course of treatment action is dependent on the condition of each individual—in terms of the behavior of the tumor, its size, location, rate of progression, etc. Today, there are clinical trial options available for metastatic breast cancer treatment, but its effectiveness and rate of success are yet to be determined.
In addition to metastatic breast cancer treatment options, there will also be a need for supportive care. This is quite important as it helps the individual cope with the trauma that often results from the disease; it also helps with better management. Some of these supportive cares, usually prescribed by practitioners, include nutrition therapy, pain management, mind-body medicine, naturopathic support, and spiritual support.
Side effects caused by metastatic breast cancer treatments
Any form of cancer treatment has its own range of side effects. These side effects end up affecting both the healthy tissues and organs in the patient. The occurrence of side effects depends on a long list of factors. Mostly, no two individuals who are undergoing the same condition may necessarily experience the same side effects from one form of treatment. While some of the side effects caused by metastatic breast cancer treatments are short-term in nature, some tend to last for a longer duration or even for a lifetime.
Side effects are a major concern for many patients as it tends to cause a considerable amount of pressure on the body both physically and mentally. Some occur while the metastatic breast cancer treatment is ongoing, while others may develop post-treatment or even over the years as the effect of the treatment effect wears off. Most of these side effects are associated with a specific set of medicines, therapies, or regiments. It is important to keep your practitioner appraised of the situation as they may be able to aid better in management to ease the affected person from pain.
Once the metastatic breast cancer treatment begins, there will be periodic follow-ups with the doctor and routine diagnostic tests to determine the effect of the treatment. This will enable the doctor to understand the success rate of the treatment. At this point, the doctor may also make a few modifications if needed or completely suggest a new course of treatment. As a patient, one has to be totally forthcoming with the doctor and keep them aware of any little discomfort they feeling. Moreover, stick to the prescribed routine to ensure that the treatment has sufficient time to work on the body. It is advised to follow a diet and take medications as suggested to avoid any major side effects.