Breast Cancer: Stage 3 & 4 Community
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worried

My sister has been dealing with breast cancer for about a year. She has gone through chemo, theraphy and  surgery. She does not tell me everthing that is going on with her, because she has always been a strong person. She told me today that she is at stage four in  her cancer. What does that mean ? how far does the stages go ? She also mention that she no longer attends the chemo, her doctor is giving her a pill that she has to take for two weeks, (because her body is use to the chemo.) can you tell me anything about the stages of cancer?
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Hi.  Cancer staging is a rating system devised by cancer doctors to help determine a patient's prognosis (how long a patient is likely to survive, and how long a patient can remain disease free).  Staging can also help doctors decide the appropriate treatment for a particular patient (can a doctor aim for a cure or just to control the disease and prevent it from progressing?).  

There are a lot of staging systems but a common scheme used in breast cancer is what is called the TNM classification.  In this scheme, tumors are rated according to their size, the presence of metastases on nearby lymph nodes, and the presence of metastases on other organs like the lungs, liver and bone.  The TNM system divides cancers into four groups or stages, from Stage 1 to 4.

Stage 1 means that the cancer is confined inside the breast and has not spread elsewhere.  This stage has the best prognosis and the best chance for a cure.  Stage  4 means that the cancer has gone beyond the confines of the breast and has spread to other organs.  When the cancer has reached this stage, it becomes very difficult to eliminate all the cancer cells from the body and effect a cure.  Often, the most that can be done  in stage 4 is to control the cancer - keep it from multiplying and spreading, and causing complications.  Compared to women with stage 1 disease, those with stage 4 generally have a worse prognosis.

The good news is that breast cancer treatment has rapidly progressed during the last five years.  Even if stage 4 disease is still generally incurable at present, treatment has advanced to the point where we can achieve very good control of cancer at this stage.  With proper treatment, a lot of women with stage 4 disease can be symptom-free for a good number of years (even more than 10 years).
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you so much for your response, this information will help me to deal with my sister's breast cancer. I love her so much and would like to be strong for her for a change.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,
In reference to your query about the stages of breast cancer, Dean536 has given a brief explanation in a more simplified way.
Breast cancer staging is a way of putting a patient in a group to benefit them with accurate management protocol.
It can be further simplified and put forth as
Carcinoma in situ
Early Breast cancer
Locally advanced Breast cancer
Stage 4 is an advanced stage, where in the cancer cells have invaded the body in various regions away from the primary tissue.Skin involvement is also considered to be stage 4.

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Avatar_f_tn
What is skin involvement?????
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Avatar_f_tn
Jennifer-do not wait to learn all you can for your sister. My sister passed away last month with breast cancer and mets. It spread thru her body rapidly. She was stage IV when she was diagnosed. I stood strong by her for the 3 years she survived. When the cancer hit her liver-she lost her battle after 1 year. She was 38 when she passed away. I miss her very much. Make your memories now and tell her everything you've ever wanted to say. No one can predict/know how long you have-wouldn't it be nice if we could! Cherish the time you have together NOW. Good luck to you and your family-remember to get yourself checked as well. With family history-it is never too early to get checked! Sharon  PS-please update your sisters condition.
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Avatar_f_tn
whoops! The abovemessage was for lolo. Sorry Jennifer64
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Avatar_f_tn
I have stage 4 breast cancer, it's spread to lymp nodes, chest, throat nodes, arm nodes. I've been diagnosed 2 years ago. I've been on hormone tx - tamoxifen daily and it shrunk it substantially. How much longer you think I have to live?
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Avatar_f_tn
Thoughts and prayers to you and your sister.
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