Breast cancer metastases and where does breast cancer metastasize?
Metastasis in breast cancer (metastatic tumor that spread in the body on the last stages of mammary glands cancer) is spread in both hematogenous and lymphogenous way. They appear in the early stages of the disease, but the immune system is capable of their rapid destruction. With the further development of the pathological process or pronounced immunodeficiency, these mechanisms fail.
Early aggressive metastasis is characteristic of aggressive forms of cancer. The ability of a malignant tumor to spread is determined by the type of its cells. Histological analysis of tissues obtained by biopsy or surgery, allows you to determine the aggressiveness of the type of cancer that a woman has at an early stage.
The breast cancer metastases detected during CT scan or scintigraphy indicate the appearance of secondary foci in other organs and tissues:
- the liver;
- the brain.
Cancer cells can be detected both at the initial occurrence of a tumor in the breast and at its recurrence.
With a disease such as breast cancer, metastases are capable of long-term existence in a latent state, so they can be detected even 5-10 years after the removal of the primary tumor. Contributes to their activation effects of provoking factors.
How does Metastasize Breast Cancer?
Metastasis of breast cancer can occur in almost all organs and tissues. As a rule, this is observed at stage 3-4 of the disease, but aggressive tumors begin to spread much earlier. First of all, nearby lymph nodes and tissues are hit. Cancer cells can spread through the blood and lymph.
- Hematogenous metastases are most often found in the lungs, liver, bone marrow, long bones and kidneys.
- Lymphogenous affect both regional and distant lymph nodes.
In the presence of metastases in the bones, the patient complains of severe pain in the spine, hip, knee and ankle joints. Tissues become fragile, which is the cause of pathological fractures. Limbs lose sensitivity, paralyzes and paresis are often observed.
In case of fracture, treatment is carried out with the help of fixing devices and irradiation of the areas affected by cancer cells. Self-healing in the presence of cancer cells is impossible.
This treatment has a number of side effects, the most dangerous of which are:
- destruction of the lower jaw;
- dysfunction of the liver and kidneys.
What are the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer?
Hypercalcemia – an increased amount of calcium in the blood, is a characteristic sign of metastasis of breast cancer in the bone. It can be caused both by the vital activity of the tumor, and the consequences of aggressive treatment methods.
This condition is considered life-threatening, so therapeutic measures should begin as early as possible. How chemotherapy is performed and whether it helps in the treatment of this disease can be found on this page.
Penetrating into the spine metastases squeeze the spinal cord and nerve endings. The patient experiences weakness in the legs, pain in the affected vertebrae cannot be relieved with non-narcotic analgesics.
The defeat of the lower spine contributes to the violation of the functions of the bladder and intestines, the main signs of this condition are:
- urinary incontinence;
- spontaneous defecation.
With the penetration of metastases in the brain develops a pronounced pain syndrome and weakness in the limbs, there is a decrease in visual acuity, doubling in the eyes. Possible violation of intellectual activity and the occurrence of epileptic seizures.
Quite often, breast cancer metastases are found in the liver, lungs and pleura.
With the defeat of the respiratory system appears painful dry cough, pain behind the sternum. The patient loses her appetite, her body is depleted. Metastases in the liver lead to the development of obstructive jaundice, the main symptoms of which are:
- digestive disorders;
- yellow skin;
- increased levels of bilirubin in the blood.
Squeezing the vena cava leads to the development of such complications as ascites.
The appearance of cancer cells in the pleural cavity contributes to the development of shortness of breath and pain in the chest. Often there is hydrothorax – accumulation of fluid in the chest. First aid is to pump out the exudate using a syringe or flexible tube connected to the aspirator.
The introduction of talc or antiseptic promotes the overgrowth of the pleural cavity, which prevents re-accumulation of fluid.
Thus, a tumor in the mammary gland can spread far beyond its borders, affecting all organs and systems. During the examination several secondary foci can be detected. The method of treatment is selected individually, rehabilitation involves the restoration of the functions of the immune system, which is subjected to the ravages of cytostatics and radiation.
How to detect metastatic breast cancer? Methods of diagnostics
If metastases are found in one organ, they probably also exist in others. In this case, the lesion may have such small dimensions that a woman will not experience any unpleasant sensations. Diagnosis of metastasis is performed after histological examination of the breast tissue or simultaneously with it.
The most common way to detect metastases is a blood test for tumor markers. The search for secondary lesions in the bones is carried out by scintigraphy, which, in the presence of suspicious formations, is supplemented by X-ray examination.
How is metastatic breast cancer treated?
There are 3 ways to treat advanced breast cancer: local, systemic and palliative. In the first case, the destruction of secondary lesions is carried out, in the second case, individual cancer cells moving through the circulatory and lymphatic systems are eliminated.
Palliative therapy is aimed at relieving the symptoms of the disease and prolonging the patient’s life. General treatment involves the use of cytostatics and hormonal drugs. Results do not appear immediately, and metastases must be destroyed as soon as possible. Irradiation of the affected areas helps in this. Mandatory is the appointment of painkillers and tonic funds.
The appearance of liver metastases significantly worsens the prognosis for recovery. In most cases, the presence of secondary lesions in this organ means inevitable death. Modern surgical interventions allow to remove single metastases and prolong the patient’s life for several years. About forecasts at different stages, we described in detail here.
For this purpose, liver resection with abdominal access, laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation and plasma surgery may be indicated. In the presence of multiple metastases, surgery is not performed.
The treatment gives positive results in the absence of metastases in distant organs. Damage to the lungs, liver and brain makes the disease incurable. The least favorable prognosis is when more than 3 organs and systems are damaged.
Can I recover after metastatic breast cancer?
Recovery is possible with types of cancer sensitive to hormones, the reaction of the tumor to chemotherapy. The chance to prolong life is given by the use of targeted therapy.
Proper treatment can prolong the life of a patient with metastatic breast cancer for 3-5 years and ensure a sufficiently high quality. How long a woman will live with stage 3-4 of the disease is impossible to determine. You may be interested to read about how to eat with breast cancer.
It all depends on the type of malignant tumor, the general condition of the body, the number of affected organs. Some live more than 10 years from the time of diagnosis, sometimes life expectancy is reduced to 1 year.