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survival rate of Stage IV
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survival rate of Stage IV

My 26 year old sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. During her second chemotherapy treatment last week, the doctor came in to confirm that the cancer has spread to not only her lymph nodes, but to her spine, rib cage, and ovaries. He told her that this places her in Stage IV. What does this mean in terms of her treatment options and the survival rate for her type of cancer? Also the doctor is urging my other sister and I to be tested immediately as well. Is there any real harm in waiting just a bit. This has all happened so quickly, and I don't know if I am up to any more at this time!
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hi.  Since your sister has stage 4 breast cancer at a young age, this means that she most probably has a more aggressive type of tumor, which could mean a poorer prognosis.  Stage 4 disease also means that cure is probably out of the question.  The best that can be done is to control the spread of the disease and "stabilize" it.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, since treatment for breast cancer has improved immensely over the past five years, such that many cases of stage 4 cancer can be controlled for a good number of years, and patients can even survive symptom-free for up to 10-12 years.  Your sister's survival rate does not depend on the stage alone, but on other variables as well, such as ER/ PR and Her-2 receptor status, histology of the tumor, nuclear grade, tumor size, number of nodes positive for cancer, etc. If you can provide the additional information, I can come up with a survival estimate for you.
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Avatar_f_tn
Dear jp-Hello.I saw your posting and feel I need to respond to your question. First, I am saddened for you and your family, especially your sister. Three years ago, my sister,age 35 at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer. When they found it-she too was stage IV. The cancer was in the 22 lymph nodes they biopsy'd, and also in her spine. It quickly spread to her thyroid, ovaries, humerus and eventually to her liver. She lived 3 years after she was diagnosed. (1 year after it spread to the liver.) She did great for the first two years. She fought strong and hard. She only had a hard time for her last 3 months of her life. She passed away last month. I am only telling you this because no one-including me-told her or her family (now age 4 & 6, and her husband) that this would take her life. I knew it and tip-toed around it. If only everyone knew-all the things we could have said, and done.Do NOT wait another minute-Make as many memories now before it is too late. Tell her everything you have ever wanted to say. Only God knows how long each of us have on this earth, but make every minute count. Good luck to your family and definetly be tested right away. Cancer sucks-don't let it take another valued life! Sharon
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi, JP. I am so sorry to hear about your sister's situation. I do want to tell you I have met several incredible women that have survived stage IV for 15 and 20 years.
I am a 52 yr old now in chemo for the 3rd time for my 1st recurrance. I have had 2 primary BC in the same breast previously since diagnosis in Oct '03, so I do know the heartbreak of BC first hand. My mother died of inflammatory BC over 10 yrs ago and my sister was also diagnosed the same time I was in Oct '03. Interestingly we do not carry the genes that increase the risks of getting BC and ovarian cancer. We appear just to have a family cluster for unknown reasons. Although your sisters situation is truly serious I must tell you I have recently met a woman that has been living with BC stage IV for 15 years! She was diagnosed back in 1990 and then during a routine yearly scan came up stage IV in bones and liver in 1994-1/2. She has been in stage IV with bone and liver involvement for over 14 years. The point I want to make is no one can tell you how long your sister will be able to manage this cancer. I know of another woman diagnosed at 28 that has managed cancer in her liver for over 7 years. Someone gave me very good advise in the beginning of my journey with BC. She told me you listen to what the doctors tell you with regards to time and percentages, etc., of survival and then you go on. Your sister, although her situation is very serious, may live for many more years than someone elses sister did. The chemo treatments are so much better than even five years ago. I think if she goes into this battle with the attitude that she will do well, she will probably do better than some. Actually there is another woman diagnosed in stage IV from my work and she is in her 6th year, with bones and liver involvement, right from the start of diagnosis. I think its possible your sister can liver many, many years with this disease controlled. Best of luck to your sister, you and your family. Cathy
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Avatar_f_tn
You and your other sister should not wait for testing. You need baseline imaging now, BCRA testing, and regular checkups. If your sister is just one of the randomly unfortunate young women to get breast cancer, then you and your other sister may not be at any increased risk, but if there is a genetic component (any other bc in your family history?), then you and your other sister may indeed be at greater risk. Don't take the chance. Get the baseline data now.
And I hope your sister is one of the longterm survivors.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello, My mother 62 has recurrent Stage IV HER2 breast cancer that has spread terribly into her Liver, a couple lymphnodes, and a vertibrae in her neck.  Her estrogen receptor is possitive as well. She begins tx. in 3 days.  I am just hoping someone could give me a realistic time frame that she may still be with us. I know it will depend on how she responds to chemo, but am hoping there is an Oncologist out there that has some experience with this type of situation and can give me a ball park based on what they have seen.
There are really no blogs online in the stage iv dept.  it is all about early detection.
Any help would be wonderful, thank you Mara
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962875_tn?1314213636
You will be more likely to get replies if you start your own  thread by posting a new question.

People tend to overlook a question tacked on to the end of an old thread, because they assume it's just an additional reply to the original poster.

Regards....
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Avatar_m_tn
In Jan 07, my girlfriend was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer.   I asked the doctor what the life expectancy was.  He said the median life expectancy was 18 months.   Meaning 1 out of 2 people will have died at the 18 month mark.   She lived 24 months.  Somehow the stupid family saw me as the bad guy for asking the doctor this question.  Like the person above, I thought the family would embrace knowing so they could spend time with her.  Boy, was I wrong.   People are idiots.
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Avatar_m_tn
In Jan 07, my girlfriend was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer.   I asked the doctor what the life expectancy was.  He said the median life expectancy was 18 months.   Meaning 1 out of 2 people will have died at the 18 month mark.   She lived 24 months.  Somehow the stupid family saw me as the bad guy for asking the doctor this question.  Like the person above, I thought the family would embrace knowing so they could spend time with her.  Boy, was I wrong.   People are idiots.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had breast cancer. Was in remission. Am waiting for the results of my needle biopsy which are not looking very good. Putting that aside. No one can ever predict how long anyone will live. A person can cross the street and get hit by a car tomorrow. Yet that person was healthy and thought they would live forever. You and your sister can have a very long life together. Everyone should live each day as though it was their last. Thus, people wouldn't be on so many antidepressants. Your sister is so lucky to have you. Take the test. It's quick and simple.
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