- Question from Mariamosca: A year after chemo, double mastectomy and radiation, my breast cancer has metastasized to my liver. How viable is liver surgery for me? And what are the latest stats for a prognosis for this kind of metastasis? Everything on the Internet for metastatic cancers is pretty outdated.
- Answers - Marisa Weiss, M.D. Medicine certainly is marching forward. Every day, Breastcancer.org does report on the results of clinical trials and other study information on new therapies.
- Larry Norton, M.D. When breast cancer becomes metastatic, the liver is certainly one of the organs that can be involved. Bone is the most common site, then lung, then liver. It appears that each individual breast cancer has a tendency to go to a specific metastatic site, and one of the areas of current research involves defining the genes that become abnormal in cancer, that allow the cancer to go to specific sites (what we call “site specific” metastasis). One of the important things that has to be done for a patient who has newly diagnosed metastatic disease is define all the sites of involvement and use this to plan appropriate therapy. Initial therapy almost always involves medications, which might be chemotherapy or hormone therapy or newer drugs that attack molecules such as HER2 or cancer blood vessel formation. If it appears that there is a solitary site of involvement in the liver or occasionally two sites in the liver and the cancer in other parts of the body is totally controlled, then there indeed might be a role for local therapy such as surgery. One technique that has become rather widely used is called radiofrequency ablation. This technique involves introduction of a wire through the skin into the cancer, and an application of energy that destroys the cancer at the tip of the wire. However, in general, this technique is used only in patients who have achieved good control of their disease by the use of medications.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer featured Larry Norton, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about managing day-to-day life with metastatic breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2007.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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