Ask an Expert is a free question-and-answer service about breast cancer and breast health that is available on weekends. If you'd like to ask a question or comment, please visit us again on Saturday or Sunday. In the meantime, please search the existing topics using the search tool at the top of the page. It's quite possible that one of our many existing topics already addresses your question.
If you would like a consultation with a breast specialist at the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center, call 443-778-2778. It is possible to get an appointment for a second opinion within a few days of contacting us.
We hope you find the information helpful!
|Forum||Questions||Ask a Question|
|Metastatic Breast Cancer
Questions about advanced metastatic breast cancer.
|Asked||Publicly Submitted Question|
|4/5/2012||My 57 year old sister was originally diagnosed and treated in 1998 as stage 2B. She enjoyed 10 years of cancer-free living before it recurred as stage 4 four years ago (lungs). Since then, she has done hormone medications, 3 different chemotherapy protocols, and radiation as needed when new mets would develop. In the fall of 2011, she suffered mets to her brain and underwent 10 days of whole brain radiation therapy. Her quality of life dramatically changed after the WBRT and she has never been “the same” cognitively again. Shortly after the WBRT, she dropped into the 80 pound range and was put on TPN. She has gained 5 poundson TPN, but is painfully frail and is always at risk of falling.|
A month ago, she began suffering back pain and we found out that her disease had spread to her bones – 6 vertebrae, 2 ribs and pelvis. A 14-day radiation cycle was ordered. In the middle of that cycle she was hospitalized for pain that she described as “exploding” across her back. It was a collapsed vertebra. Kyphoplasty was done to stabilize it. After that setback, pain management became the focus. She went home to hospice care.
As hard as it is to guess based on such vague details, can you give me an idea of how long someone with her history might live after treatment stops? Nothing can be foretold, of course, but we are heartbroken and fearful of what life will entail now that the “fight” has ended. We hope for good time together, but have no idea how much of it we may have. Please offer any advice you can.
Thank you, Lillie, for providing a forum where we can turn for honest support.
|Replied||JHU's Breast Center Reply|
|4/5/2012||oh i am so sorry that you will soon lose your loving sister. spend as much time with her as you can. Hard to guessimate without seeing her and knowing a lot more but what you are describing is someone with what is called end stage disease. very important her final wishes are known and her affairs are in order. likely days to weeks. stay close. make sure any family/friends she wants to see come soon.|
Please note: This service is not intended to provide primary medical advice concerning specific medical care or treatment. Ask an Expert is a free service operated by health care professionals at the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. Due to the volume of questions and their complexity, there are times when medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists or oncology nurses are consulted for their input. These individuals volunteer their time for this service and will respond as soon as they are able. Please do not post or send the same question to us in multiple locations or categories.