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Taking a Break From Treatment for Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Living with metastatic breast cancer can be like running a long race. You need to pace yourself. This can mean that you sometimes take a break from your treatments so your body can rest and recover. Talk to your medical team about your personal goals and quality of life, and work out a treatment plan that includes breaks when you need them.

When you take a break from treatment, you might be surprised to find that you feel pretty good and that the cancer may be controlled for an extended period of time. While you probably won't see your medical team as often while you're taking a break from treatment, it's important to stay in touch with them. Set up a schedule to make sure you check in on a regular basis.

Stopping treatment for metastatic breast cancer

There may be a time when treatment stops being effective. You may decide that you don't want to continue treatment — the benefits are too small and the side effects are too great.

Making the decision to stop treatment may be easier with the help of your doctor and the support of your family and friends. Each person's situation is unique — there are no hard and fast rules. Your decision may be based on your idea of quality of life. Some people may never choose to stop treatment. Others may feel that time isn't as important as quality of life.

The choice of if and when to stop treatment may be the hardest decision you've ever had to make. Or maybe you're feeling calm because it feels like the right thing to do. Even if you decide to stop treatment, you can always change your mind. Also, while you may decide to stop treatment that actively fights the disease, you can still receive medicine to control any symptoms and pain you may have.

At this time in your life, there’s a lot to consider.

Our section on Planning Ahead: End-of-Life Issues can guide you through the concerns that can arise when you’re thinking about stopping treatment. In this section, you can read about legal and practical issues related to the end of life, symptom management, and the support offered by hospice care.

Expert Quote

"If you think you would like or need a break in your treatment, work this out with your doctor. You can take a break for holidays, for a special occasion, because you want to travel, or for other reasons."

-- Marisa Weiss, M.D., chief medical officer,

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