Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment

Stage 4 breast cancer treatment options are for Stage 4 breast cancer, where the cancer has spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes to other parts of the body.

While surgery and radiation therapy may be part of the Stage 4 breast cancer treatment regimen when breast cancer is diagnosed at Stage 4, more aggressive therapy will likely take place immediately, which may consist of a combination of hormone therapy, chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy.

In Stage 4 breast cancer, it is not uncommon for the cancer to spread to the bone, causing pain and discomfort. In these cases, radiation therapy may be recommended to help relieve the bone pain. Additionally, other therapies called bisphosphonates will be given to strengthen the bone affected by the spread of the breast cancer.

Following are more specifics about different Stage 4 breast cancer treatment options:

Hormone Therapy Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment
If the Stage 4 tumor is found to be hormone receptor-positive, hormone therapies such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex) or aromatase inhibitors (exemestane/Aromasin, anastrozole/Arimidex, or letrozole/Femara) will be used in combination with chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy immediately following diagnosis.
Used for more than 30 years to treat breast cancer, tamoxifen is given as a pill and works by blocking the activity of estrogen. Aromatase inhibitors are typically given to women who have already gone through menopause, and work by preventing the body from making estradiol, a form of estrogen.
Chemotherapy Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment
There are many different types of chemotherapy agents and combinations of chemotherapy agents that are used to treat Stage 4 breast cancer. Some of the commonly used combinations include:
AC
Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and Cyclophosphamide
A – CMF
Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) followed by CMF:cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), methotrexate (Amethopterin, Mexate, Folex), and 5-fluorouracil (Fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil)
AC – T
Doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel (Taxol) or docetaxel (Taxotere). During this regimen, the targeted monoclonal antibody therapy trastuzumab (Herceptin) may be given if the tumor is HER2-positive tumor.
CAF (FAC)
Cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and 5-fluorouracil (Fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil)
CEF (FEC)
Cyclophosphamide, epirubicin, and 5-fluorouracil (Fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil). This regimen also may be followed by docetaxel (Taxotere).
CMF
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), methotrexate (Amethopterin, Mexate, Folex), and 5-fluorouracil (Fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil)
EC
Epirubicin (Ellence) and cyclophosphamide
TAC
Docetaxel (Taxotere), doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and cyclophosphamide
TC
Docetaxel (Taxotere) and cyclophosphamide
TCH
Docetaxel (Taxotere), carboplatin, and trastuzumab (Herceptin) for HER2-positive tumors
Other chemotherapy agents
Besides these commonly used treatment regimens, other chemotherapy agents also are used to treat breast cancer. These include:albumin-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane), capecitabine (Xeloda), cisplatin (Platinol), gemcitibine (Gemzar), ixabepilone (Ixempra), mitoxantrone (Novantrone), pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil) and vinorelbine (Navelbine).
Targeted Therapy Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment
If the Stage 4 tumor is found to be HER2-positive, meaning the tumor is a more aggressive form of breast cancer, the use of the targeted monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin) will likely be given in combination with the specific chemotherapy regimens listed above.
Additionally, another targeted therapy called bevacizumab (Avastin) also may be given during Stage 4 breast cancer treatment. This particular therapy works to cut off the blood vessels that supply the tumor with blood necessary to grow.
Bisphosphonates Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment
During Stage 4 breast cancer, it is not unusual for the cancer to spread to the bones. Therapies called bisphosphonates (pamidronate/Aredia or zoledronic acid/Zometa) along with calcium and Vitamin D typically are given to help strengthen the bone affected by the spread of the breast cancer.
Surgery and Radiation Therapy Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment
While the mainstay of treatment for earlier stages of breast cancer, surgery and/or radiation therapy is typically reserved to help relieve pain and discomfort or to treat the breast cancer that has spread to a specific area of the body.

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