“Metastases cancer” or stage 4 cancer, is the medical term for describing a condition where a tumor originating in a certain organ, “primary tumor”, is identified in another organ or in a distant location from the original organ, e.g., metastases of breast cancer can be found in the lungs, brain, bones and liver.
It is important to note, metastases are the same type of the original primary tumor, even if its location is in distant organs and so are the treatments regarded as such, for example, a treatment for a metastatic lung cancer that has spread to the liver, is determined by the treatment for metastatic lung cancer and not by the treatment for liver cancer.
Cancer cells of the primary tumor can be released into the bloodstream and lymphatic system and circulate to distant organs or adjacent organs and tissues to the primary tumor and “settle” in them and grow.
There are different types of cancer which is known where metastases can be formed, for example,
Breast cancer can spread to the bones, brain, liver and lungs
Lung cancer can spread to the brain, bones, liver and kidney
Prostate cancer can spread to the bones
Colon cancer, rectal cancer, colorectal cancer can spread to the liver and lungs
Stage IV metastatic cancer and recovery
In the vast majority of the metastatic cases, the treatments do not cure. Treatment goals are slowing tumor growth rate, prolonging life and reducing the symptoms of the disease, improving the quality of life of the patient.
The efficacy of the treatments is affected by many factors, among them are the type of cancer, number of metastases (also called “lesions”) and their location, how much cancer the patient has in his or her body, growth rate of the tumor lesions, medical history of the patient, background diseases, microenvironment between the tumor cells themselves, resistance the tumor has developed to previous treatments and other.
Advanced treatments and clinical trials for stage 4
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) highlights the fact that for a certain group of metastatic cancer patients, the best treatment option is to join one of the many clinical trials existing worldwide aiming to increase their chances of therapeutic success.
This is also recommended by the USA national comprehensive cancer network, NCCN, (USA national comprehensive cancer network)
“Patients with cancer should be encouraged to participate in clinical trials during all aspects of their diagnosis and treatment”
Currently, every patient will be offered the standard protocols described above. Sometimes the oncologist may suggest integrating these therapies with trials carried out in the Institute.
Advances in cancer therapies may be found in clinical trials prescribing cutting edge, interesting drugs, some of which have already been recognized by the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) as “breakthrough treatments” and require further information input before being finally and fully approved.
An entire world of clinical trials and compassionate drugs and treatments are open and available worldwide. It is important to know which cutting edge treatments exist which patients can gain far more from them than the standard care offered.
For most patients with stage 4 metastatic cancer, current treatments are insufficiently effective. This gives rise to the need for innovative strategies with greater efficacy in fighting the disease.
Read our publications on innovative treatments for stage 4 metastatic cancer:
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Sub-population of the total population of breast cancer patients.
The cancerous growth in the patients belonging to this population does not reflect the receptors of HER2, estrogen, and progesterone. Breast cancers are currently being cataloged according to the presence of these receptors
It is considered a particularly aggressive, with a very low curability index and is treated, for the most part with chemotherapy which has a response rate of only 1-2%. This cancer constitutes approx. 15% of all breast cancer cases.
The link between vitamin D and an increased risk of developing a triple negative breast cancer
Results of a comprehensive review of 13,135 women with breast cancer showed that low levels of vitamin D in the blood appeared in 88% of triple negative breast cancer, compared to only 37% in non-triple negative breast cancer patients.
Although more studies are needed to confirm this, this work certainly indicates a close link between low blood levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of developing triple negative breast cancer, a subtype of breast cancer that is more violent than other types of breast cancer.
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