Stage I to Stage IV means fast-growing cancer?


Question from Sylvia: I am a 52-year-old metastatic breast cancer patient. In 2004 I was diagnosed with stage I, no lymph node involvement. I had a mastectomy, was told I was cured. June 2007 I am at stage IV. How can this be? Does this mean I have a rapid-growing cancer?
Answers - Larry Norton, M.D. Breast cancers appear first in the breast in most situations. In that case, the therapy is focused on eradicating the cancer in the breast and the use of medications to kill cancer cells elsewhere in the body if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body but have not yet grown. In most cases this treatment is successful, and cancers do not grow back either in the breast or in any other part of the body. However, such treatment is not always successful and sometimes cancers do grow in what we call distant sites, which are parts of the body separate from the breast. When this occurs, we have to focus our energies on treatments that can kill these cancer cells. Which treatments we use depends on the biochemistry of the cancer cells, sites of involvement, and any prior treatment for cancer that the patient has received.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. Even though you've experienced a recurrence, and that can feel devastating, don't give up hope. The cancer may still respond quite well to new therapeutic approaches. And new therapies are being investigated and are on the horizon. Ask your doctor about clinical trials for which you may be eligible.

On Wednesday, October 17, 2007 our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer. Larry Norton, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about managing day-to-day life with metastatic breast cancer.

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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