Early Signs of Breast Cancer Spreading for Older Adults
Metastasis refers to the spreading of cancer. It happens when cancerous cells move from the original breast tumor to other parts of the body. These cells can travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system, which is responsible for removing bacteria, viruses, and cellular waste through a network of lymph nodes and vessels.
By recognizing the initial symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, you can take steps to prevent the cancer from spreading to other areas of the body.
After being diagnosed and treated, breast cancer has the potential to reappear in a different part of the body months or even years later. This is called distant recurrence or metastatic recurrence. Shockingly, around one-third of women who have had early-stage breast cancer will experience metastatic illness.
Due to the rarity of male breast cancer cases, it is uncertain how frequently these tumors metastasize. Nevertheless, men are also diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
De Novo metastatic breast cancer refers to the situation where breast cancer is initially diagnosed as metastatic, implying that the cancer has already spread to other areas of the body by the time it is discovered.
Identifying the Indications and Manifestations of Metastatic Breast Cancer
The bones, lungs, brain, and liver are the primary locations where breast cancer spreads (metastasizes), although it can also spread to other parts of the body. The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer can vary based on the location of the disease, but may include:
• Persistent back, bone, or joint pain • Difficulty urinating, which may indicate that the cancer is compressing nerves in the back • Numbness or weakness in any part of the body • A chronic, dry cough • Shortness of breath, chest pain, and difficulty breathing • Loss of appetite, abdominal bloating, tenderness, or pain • Continuous nausea, vomiting, or weight loss • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice) • Intense headaches • Vision issues (blurred vision, double vision, or loss of vision) • Seizures • Confusion, loss of balance
What Options Exist for Treating Metastatic Breast Cancer?
There are various treatment methods available for metastatic breast cancer, and therapy can be tailored to your individual needs as each cancer is unique.
Systemic drugs are frequently utilized to treat metastatic breast cancer in any area of the body. These drugs work throughout the body and include chemotherapy, hormone treatment, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy. In certain cases, local therapies like surgery or radiation that focus on a specific area of the body may also be required.
Collaborating with your healthcare team, you can manage your symptoms. Some measures, like lifestyle adjustments, can be done at home with the assistance of loved ones, while others may require the guidance and supervision of a healthcare professional. It is always advisable to consult with your doctor regarding the best approaches to relieve your symptoms and enhance your quality of life.
Coping with Metastatic Cancer: Symptoms and Adjustments to Your Daily Life and Environment.
If you have metastatic cancer, you may need to make changes to your dietary habits. You may experience a loss of appetite or a reduced desire for food due to changes in your sense of taste and smell. In such cases, trying out different foods or incorporating high-calorie protein drinks as a supplement can help you strike a balance between reduced appetite and adequate energy to get through the day.
It is recommended to avoid or limit the intake of certain foods, including:
• high-fat meats
• dairy products
• sugary treats
Prescription Pain Management for Metastatic Cancer Symptoms
If you’re experiencing any discomfort or anxiety, your doctor may suggest medications to help you. Pain relievers are usually prescribed in different forms:
• Orally through the mouth
• a patch to the skin
In order to ensure proper dosages of medication, a pain-medication pump might be necessary. If fatigue and sleep problems are affecting your quality of life, adjusting your sleep schedule or even changing your sleeping environment may be helpful. It is important to avoid self-medicating with pain relievers as they can interfere with any treatment you are receiving. Always let your doctor prescribe any pain relief medication for you.
Reach Out to a Hospice or Palliative Care Unit Near You, Get The Help and Support You Need Today!
With advancing treatments for metastatic breast cancer, many individuals are able to live for a prolonged period of time after diagnosis with a good quality of life. However, in cases where the treatment is no longer effective, your doctor may suggest hospice or palliative care. Those who choose to discontinue treatment due to severe side effects that affect their daily life may also consider hospice or palliative care. Irrespective of the cancer stage, joining a breast cancer support group can be helpful. It provides an opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings with others in a similar situation, fostering empathy and support. A support group can help alleviate feelings of isolation and enhance your overall well-being.