The answers you want, probably don’t exist right now- Because metaplastic
breast cancer is so rare few studies of this condition have been done.
Additionally, the studies that are available usually don’t include
enough women or tumors to be scientifically significant. Making it even
more difficult, metapalstic breast cancer has multiple subtypes (according
to the World Health Organizations 2011 study) So finding a study that
will give you any definitive answers as to why or how you got metaplastic
breast cancer or what you can do to cure it is impossible. There is just
too little known about it and too many variables involved to give each
woman and individual treatment plan or prognosis.
“Rare” does not mean “death sentence.”- Yes, metplastic
breast cancer is a scary diagnosis but women DO survive their experience
with it. Again, few studies mean that exact prognosis is difficult to
get but the majority of women who have a metaplastic tumor live past the
five year mark. Studies suggest between 65-75% overall survival rates.
Metaplastic breast cancer really does come back often and quickly- Some
studies say that up to 50% of metaplastic patients will see a second tumor.
However, a second tumor is not always a death sentence either. If 65-75%
of women live then it is clear that of the women who have a second tumor,
many of them live as well.
Metaplastic tumors go to the lymph nodes less often than with more common
forms of breast cancer- So, if the cancer travels to the lymph nodes less
often how come metaplastic breast cancer has a worse prognosis? That’s
because cancer can also travel through the blood stream. So, while it’s
good to know you don’t have cancer in the lymph nodes, it’s
not a guarantee that the cancer hasn’t or won’t spread.
Triple Negative Treatment- You will most likely be offered the same treatment
used by your doctor for triple negative breast cancers. There is no treatment
currently designed specifically for metaplastic breast cancer or for any
of the subtypes of MpBC. Because of this and because MpBC is often triple
negative many doctors offer treatments aimed at the triple negative aspect
of the tumor.
Long-term side effect of chemo- Almost everyone has heard of the side effects
of chemotherapy; nausea, hair-loss and food tasting bad are just a few.
However, for patients without any personal experience with chemo the long-term
side effects can be a surprise. Some of the SE that can plague a patient
for months and even years include cognitive issues, neuropathy, fatigue
and pain. Many cancer patients who receive chemotherapy are unaware that
cognitive issues can arise during and after treatment. Word recall problems,
difficulty with short term memory and thought processing issues are common.
Some women have issues with their veins even after using a port, other
have heart issues caused by the Adriamycin. Radiation can cause long-tern
affects as well. Physical therapy is often needed after surgeries to regain
range of movement and lymphedema can cause permanent damage. Beside the
physical changes many women also experience emotional change and find
a need to create a “new normal” after their treatment ends.
Metaplastic breast cancer is considered chemo-resistant- However, not every
metaplastic tumor is chemo-resistant and yours might respond well to treatment.
Don’t fore-go treatment because some tumors may not respond.
Targeted therapies (personalized medicine) are our greatest hope- Each
of us has a unique circumstance and unique tumor. Personalized medicine
based on tumor profiling is one of the bright spots on the horizon. We
all look forward to a day when treatment will be designed just for us.
You are not alone- There are other women who have been in your situation
and who can help you. Join us on FaceBook
Together we can make progress- Because metaplastic breast cancer is so
rare, few studies have been done explicitly for us or looking at the causes
and potential cures for it. We need to join together to demand attention
from the medical community. Together we are stronger and we can find researchers
interested in helping our cause. Email us at wecanbeatmpbc@gmail to learn
how you can help the cause.