Stage IV Awareness

Of course we all want to just get on with our lives again after treatment finishes. Picking up the pieces (physically and mentally) is one thing but it’s important we know what symptoms we should look out for regarding Stage IV breast cancer. I’ve noticed it’s less often referred to as “Stage 4” like the primary breast cancer numbering 0-3 but more often the 4 is Roman Numerals in referencing and I have no idea why. It’s also referred to as: secondary, metastatic, mets or progression. I’ve hypothesised to Jo Taylor that perhaps subconsciously the Stage 1-3 gets separated from Stage IV as there is a quantum leap between the consistency of options available between primary and secondary treatment. For this reason, perhaps we should continue to use Stage IV until we see positive change.

Breast Cancer Now have information dedicated to supporting anxiety around recurrence and what to look out for.

Jo Taylor has done a wonderful job of raising awareness of Stage IV symptoms and here, in her words, is some good advice followed by infographics with links to corresponding web pages:

“When you have had a primary breast cancer, like with any cancer, there can be a risk of recurrence (your specific risk can be discussed with your oncologist or BCN within the personalized care plan).  Hopefully, you will have no further issues like 70% of patients but please be aware of any possible “red flag” signs and symptoms of secondary breast cancer, especially if you are on your own supportive care – any issues lasting more than 3 weeks; see your Oncologist”

Click the links below the images to view/download as PDF:

Jo has created two infographics to explain this and to help primary patients recognise symptoms of secondary breast cancer.

The first is for DUCTAL breast cancer

Secondary Ductal Breast Cancer

The below infographic is for LOBULAR Breast Cancer as this breast cancer type metastasizes to different areas than a normal ductal lump:

Secondary Lobular Breast Cancer

The following infographic was published by Biotech-Catalyst for Breast Cancer Awareness and shows the highest risk metastatic sites by each breast cancer sub-type.  Don’t get confused by the percentages though.  The percentages show the portion of metastatic cancers which metastasise to these locations but it doesn’t mean ALL breast cancer will metastasise to these locations.   Approximately 30% of breast cancers metastasise so these diagrams represent the statistical mix within that 30%.