As I look around at all the pink ribbons this month, I really wonder who ISN’T aware of breast cancer. I do know that few people are aware of metastatic breast cancer, even though 30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer go on to develop mets. In 2009, the US Senate and House declared October 13 Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day in an effort to raise awareness. Here’s some information from the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network website:
13 Facts Everyone Should Know about Metastatic Breast Cancer
1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells travel to a vital organ and that is what threatens life.
2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.
3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
4. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control of the disease and quality of life.
5. About 6% to 10% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.
6. Early detection does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or 15 years after a person’s original diagnosis and successful treatment checkups and annual mammograms.
7. 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer.
8. Young people, as well as men, can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
9. Like early stage breast cancer, there are different types of metastatic breast cancer.
10. Treatment choices are guided by breast cancer type, location and extent of metastasis in the body, previous treatments and other factors.
11. Metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some will live long and productive lives.
12. There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Every patient and their disease is unique.
13. To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13 and to access resources specifically for people living with metastatic breast cancer and their caregivers, visit www.mbcn.org.