Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Playing Metastatic Breast Cancer Explained

Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, chief medical officer for Pfizer, joins The Doctors to discuss metastatic breast cancer, a condition that affects nearly 250,000 Americans, most of whom are women.

Dr. Lewis-Hall explains that breast cancer becomes metastatic when cancer cells spread beyond the primary site (breast) into other areas of the body, including the lymph nodes, the bloodstream, bones and other organs, such as the lungs. The cancer cells are still breast cancer cells, even when they are affecting another area of the body. For example, breast cancer that spreads to the bones is not bone cancer, it is metastatic breast cancer.

When breast cancer is treated and then comes back in the same area where it originally grew, this is called a recurrence, or recurrent breast cancer. 

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that most deaths from breast cancer are a result of complications due to recurrence or metastasis.

The Doctors are joined by Noreen Fraser, the co-founder of Stand Up 2 Cancer and founder of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, which raises funds for women’s cancer research. Noreen was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago and has been living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer for the last 11 years. Although the median survival rate for patients with metastatic breast cancer is three years, Noreen says a new drug, currently in clinical trials, has produced positive results for her.

Noreen says it’s important for breast cancer patients to seek more than one medical opinion regarding their treatment and prognosis, to do their own research about available treatment options, and to get plenty of emotional support to help them cope with this difficult diagnosis.

Dr. Lewis-Hall emphasizes the importance of early detection for breast cancer patients. She says that a common misconception people have is that metastatic breast cancer is curable, which it is not. While there is currently no cure for the disease, Dr. Lewis-Hall says that clinical trials, like the one Noreen is participating in, are an important step in the fight against cancer.

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Sponsored by Pfizer.