Breast Cancer Metastases: How to Determine, Treatment and Prognosis

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Oncology is one of the most dangerous enemies of all modern mankind. Annually around 8 million people die of cancer in the world. According to some sources, this number is growing infinitely and can double by 2030.

Sad Statistics

Breast cancer is one of the most common oncological diseases among the female population. According to statistics, about one in ten faces such a diagnosis.

Men, too, are at risk of developing this pathology, because the mammary gland in them is similar in structure to that of the female. But due to hormonal reasons, the representatives of the stronger sex have much fewer cases (about 1% of all cases of breast cancer incidence). The mortality rate is about 50%.

The most common cause of death is later treatment of a person for medical care, when the process is in the last stages, in which the tumor is very actively metastasizing. After all, in most cases, the patient does not die from the tumor itself, but from its metastases, which it spreads to almost all organs and systems. Therefore, it is very important to timely diagnose the tumor and its metastases in breast cancer. It literally can save a life.

Breast Cancer Metastases
Breast Cancer

When does the tumor start to metastasize?

Typically, the movement of malignant cells begins in the 3rd or 4th stage, but in practice, there are cases when the tumor gave metastases and in the 1-2 stage. It happens that a woman was diagnosed with cancer in the early stages, removed the underlying tumor and came full recovery. However, with a sharp decrease in immunity or severe stress, the body failed, resulting in a malignant process starting again and spreading with renewed vigor.

With breast cancer, malignant cells are spread throughout the body at the very beginning of the disease. However, while immunity is strong, it is able to prevent the spread of a malignant process. Nevertheless, in any cancer patient, the protective forces gradually decrease, and as a result, the body can no longer resist. After this, metastases begin to blister with lymph and blood across all organs.

Therefore, we can say that to some extent the rate of formation and spread of tumor cells depends on the strength of the body’s immune system.

Where are the metastases?

In breast cancer, metastases can spread very quickly. Even a single cancer cell, falling into a healthy organ, can cause the development of malignant tumors.

First of all, the nearest lymph nodes (cervical, scapular and others) are affected. Then cancer can go to the second breast and also get to the inguinal lymph nodes.

With blood, the metastases spread far beyond the mammary glands and affect the lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, and bones. In the lungs, metastases for breast cancer are most often.

Of course, this process leads to the appearance of a number of symptoms in the patient:

  • Various intensities of pain in the area of the affected organ.
  • With the appearance of malignant foci in the lungs, the patient has a persistent cough, shortness of breath, an unpleasant pressure in the chest area.
  • In breast cancer, metastases can affect the brain, causing dizziness, headaches, fainting and sudden changes in behavior.

Diagnosis of the presence of metastases

Even if the tumor has already given metastases to distant organs, the patient may not feel it right away. It often happens that symptoms appear in the last stages when the process of spreading metastases in breast cancer has already gone very far. Therefore, it is especially important to conduct timely diagnosis of the tumor and its secondary foci. There are a number of surveys for this:

  • Ultrasound examination of internal organs.
  • Tomography. Particularly reliable information is provided by the positron emission type (PET).
  • Radiography. Another reliable way to detect metastases in breast cancer. A mammogram is performed for the examination of the breast for the presence of formations.
  • For a complete examination, as a rule, laboratory blood tests are also prescribed for the presence of oncological markers in it, which will indicate the occurrence of breast cancer.

Treatment of metastases

Methods of recovery from metastases are conventionally divided into two groups:

  • Systemic therapy. This includes chemotherapy with one, two or more drugs that have anticancer activity, stopping the growth and spread of metastases. In the event that cancer cells are sensitive to hormones, therapy can be performed with their help, which increases the chances of recovery.
  • Local therapy. This includes treatment with gamma rays capable of destroying metastatic cells, as well as an operation for the destruction of metastases.

Anesthesia in oncology

Pain in one way or another pursues almost every patient with cancer. Therefore, anesthesia in oncology is a matter requiring special attention. The scheme of drugs depends on the severity of pain and is appointed by the oncologist individually for each patient. With mild or moderate pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. With severe pain, the patient is prescribed opioid analgesics, which by their nature are drugs.

The patient’s life expectancy

Undoubtedly, a dangerous diagnosis is the presence of cancer in a person with metastases. How many live with such a pathology, it is difficult to say, since it is impossible to name the exact amount of time. The fact is that a huge influence is exerted by many different factors:

  • If the tumor cells have receptors that are sensitive to hormones, the prognosis is more favorable. Since in this case, it is possible to carry out hormonal therapy, destroying malignant cells.
  • The leading effect on the prognosis is the number of metastases and the range of their distribution. The less affected organs, the more favorable the forecast.

On average, patients with metastases live from a few months to ten years. Therefore, we can conclude that everything is strictly individual for each patient.

Conclusion

Thus, it can be concluded that the appearance of metastases in breast cancer is a negative sign, indicating that the process is not at the first stage. In addition, with the appearance of secondary foci, the prognosis of the patient’s life significantly worsens. Metastases can have a very different location and appearance. Also, they can start to disturb the patient immediately after the appearance but can spread and grow in his body, for a long time remaining invisible. Therefore, it is so important to monitor your health and regularly undergo preventive medical examinations.

Author Bio – Ashwini is a part-time freelance content writer in Health niche. He has been working professionally as a writer for the past 3 years. Being an avid book reader and an amateur poet as a child, He was always fascinated towards writing. Photography is another art form which keeps her occupied and mesmerized. He also writes for Oddway International and others.