How Long Can a Person Live with Metastatic Breast Cancer

how long can a person live with metastatic breast cancer

People with metastatic breast cancer are living longer lives due to advanced treatment options. However, survival greatly varies from person to person and various factors contribute to increasing or decreasing the survival rates.

Metastatic breast cancer is also known as stage 4 breast cancer or advanced breast cancer and it is not a single type of breast cancer.

Being the most advanced stage of breast cancer, by the time of diagnosis, it will have already spread beyond the breast to the bones, liver, lungs, or brain.

Despite the fact that it has spread to other parts of the body or ‘metastasized’ it is still regarded as breast cancer and treated as one.

Take for example, in case of stage 4 breast cancer that has ‘metastasized’ towards the lungs and will still be treated with breast cancer therapies and not lung cancer medications.

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 What is the survival rate?

Unfortunately, as cancer cells expand, they frequently become more challenging to manage and may develop medication resistance.

The percentage of persons who survive at least 5 years after their cancer is discovered is shown by the 5-year survival rate. The percentage refers to the number out of 100.  [ref]

  • For women with metastatic breast cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 29%
  • For males with metastatic breast cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 22%

Make sure to always stay positive.

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The 5-Year relative survival rate

According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rates of breast cancer, based on the SEER database is:

SEER Stage

5-Year Relative Survival Rate

All SEER stages combined90%
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What factors hinder the survival rate?

The percentage of people who have the same stage of breast cancer who are still alive after a specific amount of time may be estimated using survival rates (e.g. 5 years).

They are unable to foretell the lifespan of any particular breast cancer patient, though. People with metastatic breast cancer may have dramatically different lengths of survival time from one another, although a variety of variables might affect this, including:

  • Site and size of metastases
  • The particular breast cancer subtype (hormone receptor-positive, HER2-positive and triple-negative). This is crucial since certain cancers might be more aggressive than others and react to treatments differently.
  • The existence of other health conditions unrelated to cancer
  • Compliance of the patient with therapy
  • Response to the treatment
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Is it possible to survive metastatic breast cancer?

Although metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured, it can be managed with medication for a number of years. Additionally, cancer may enter remission. Different remissions come in various forms:

  • When there are no detectable signs or symptoms of cancer that can be seen through scans or tests, the condition is known as a full remission (or complete response).
  • When cancer has only partially reacted to therapy, it is said to be in partial remission. Although it has shrunk, it is still there.

At this time, it is impossible to estimate the length of remission. The continual cycle of expanding, contracting, and stabilizing can, however, result in survivability. Additionally, new therapies are still being created. Treatment can help you live longer, manage cancer, and reduce symptoms.

Although accepting a diagnosis is not always simple, many people find that given time, they are able to do so. Despite the numerous difficulties brought on by metastatic breast cancer, people can still lead fulfilling lives.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

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