Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic cancer, which is also known a stage IV cancer, is a type of breast cancer that has spread or metastasized to different organs of the body. These organs include the liver, lungs, bones and brain.

How do cancer cells spread?

Cancer cells are separate from the original tumor within the breast and visit alternative parts of the body through the blood or the vascular system. The vascular system is a giant network of nodes and vessels that work together to get rid of bacterium, viruses, and cellular waste product.

Breast cancer can metastasize to other parts of the body several months or years after an initial biopsy and diagnosis. Several clinical trials have shown that nearly half of patients diagnosed with early-stage cancer or stage one cancer, can develop metastatic cancer in the future.

What are the Symptoms of Metastatic Breast Cancer?

Unintentional Weight Loss

One of the symptoms of metastasized breast cancer is unintentional weight loss. When cancer cells have metastasized to distant organs of the body, it can result in muscle deterioration and loss of appetite. With the loss of appetite, a person with metastasized cancer can easily lose weight. If the disease reaches the liver, one can lose weight at an even more rapidly.

Depression

Another common symptom of metastasized breast cancer is depression. Being diagnosed with malignant metastasized breast cancer can trigger feelings of hopelessness, anger and fear. Patients with stage IV breast cancer are usually advised to seek counsel and support from family and friends and also seek professional help.

Extreme Fatigue

Like most forms of cancer, metastasized breast cancer causes extreme fatigue. Most people with metastasized breast cancer complain about feeling very weak and drained even after a good nights sleep. Breast cancer patients who even live a sedentary lifestyle still complain about feeling extremely weak all the time. Patients are usually advised spend as much time as possible relaxing and avoid over exerting themselves with rigorous activities.

Liver Metastases (Malignant Growths)

Liver Metastasis is yet another symptom of metastatic breast cancer. When the malignant breast cancer tumor invades the liver, breast cancer patients usually complain of intense abdominal pain. The skin may also begin to yellow, which may indicate that the liver is under attack.

Bone Metastases

In several instances, individuals usually do not notice the spread of the cancer until they suffer from a bone fracture. Most patients with metastasized breast cancer experience brittle and very weak bones. They can easily get injured and have their bones fractured.

Lung Metastases

When malignant breast cancer affects the lungs, it goes through a series of processes. First patients will develop a shortness of breath and a chronic cough. Eventually the lungs will be filled with fluid causing the respiratory tract to be restricted.

Brain Metastases

Brain metastasis is an uncommon symptom of breast cancer. However, when this occurs, it causes a lot of panic. Patients experience migraines, temperament changes and dizziness. If left untreated, the patient may develop a seizure.

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, some people are not diagnosed with the disease early and as a result the cancer may have spread to distant organs in the body before their first diagnosis.

A malignant tumor changes the internal structure of the organ it invades. The gross appearance of the tumor is very different from organs in the body, since it is created from carcinoma cells. Thus when carcinoma spreads to an organ, for instance when a malignant tumor invades a bone, the malignant tumor completely changes the composition of the bone. The bone will now be composed of carcinoma cells, not bone cells.