Metastatic breast cancer is secondary cancer – the cancer cells develop in the breast tissue and then travel to other parts of the body. The most common areas of breast cancer metastasis are the bones, brain, lungs, and liver.
After an initial diagnosis of breast cancer, a patient is given specific screening recommendations to ensure that any metastatic cancer is detected early. These recommendations may include periodic X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, or bone scans. It will also be necessary for the patient to remain vigilant for signs of metastatic breast cancer. Depending on the specific parts of the affected body, symptoms of metastatic breast cancer may vary.
Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer in the bones
Although metastatic breast cancer can occur in any bone in the body, it usually affects the ribs, spine, pelvis, and long bones in the arms and legs. Breast cancer that has spread to the bones can cause:
Sudden pain in the bones, such as hip or back pain, may resemble the discomfort associated with arthritis or exertion.
An increased risk of bone fractures resulting from minimal trauma, such as a minor fall.
An increased calcium level in the blood can lead to fatigue, nausea, dehydration, and loss of appetite.
Senselessness or muscle weakness in an arm or leg
Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer in a brain
If Metastatic breast cancer attacks the brain, it can cause headaches and blurred vision.
Depending on the affected area of the brain, metastatic breast cancer may occur:
Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer in a lung
Breast cancer that’s moved to a lung can cause:
Pain in the affected lung
Hiccups and shortness of breath
Persistent cough and other symptoms are similar to those of colds and flu.
Coughing up mucus or blood
Symptoms of metastatic breast cancer in the liver
Metastatic Breast cancer that has spread to the liver can cause:
Pain or swelling under the ribs, in the middle or near the right shoulder
Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Unexplained weight loss
A yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
Other general symptoms of metastatic breast cancer may be:
loss of appetite
These symptoms may be the consequence of the condition, a depression associated with the disease, or as side effects of medication.
Learning to recognize these symptoms and making a diagnosis at an early stage can ensure that a person receives the right treatment quickly. This can improve both the quality and duration of a person’s life.
Tips for living with metastatic breast cancer
Living with advanced cancer can be difficult for the individual, his family, and friends. The American Cancer Society recommends the following strategies to deal with cancer:
Learn as much as you can about the condition and what to expect.
Understand that it is not possible to control every side of cancer.
Learn ways to let go of feelings and fears, for example, by talking about it.
Make time for important things, such as spending time with loved ones.
Eat healthily and practice when you can.
Look for ways to relax and do things that bring pleasure.
Participate in support groups as much as possible.
Read Also: 14 Signs of Breast Cancer Most Women Ignore
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