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Signs of End Stage Breast Cancer

by
author image Hannah Rice Myers
Based in Jamestown, Pa., Hannah Rice Myers has more than 10 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in the health industry. Many of her articles have appeared in newspapers, as well as "Curing Epilepsy: Hope Through Research." Rice Myers received her master's degree in nursing from Upstate Medical University in 2001.
Signs of End Stage Breast Cancer
Technician looking at mamogram results Photo Credit Frans Rombout/iStock/Getty Images
Medically Reviewed by
Brenda Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA

Overview

End stage breast cancer is also known as stage IV breast cancer, the most advanced stage of the disease. According to Imaginis, a women's health resource, during this stage, the cancer has spread to other organs of the body. The three most common areas affected are the liver, bones and lungs. When these areas become affected, the most obvious signs of end stage breast cancer present themselves.

Pulmonary Symptoms

According to Imaginis, 60 percent to 70 percent of women who die from breast cancer have had it spread to their lungs. In 21 percent of cases, the lungs are the only place to which the cancer has spread. There are some cases reported in which women experience no symptoms of lung metastases; it is only detected through a CT scan or X-ray of the lungs. The most common symptoms are coughing and shortness of breath.

Bone Symptoms

Two types of bone metastases exist: osteolytic and osetoblastic. The bones most commonly affected are the long bones of the arms and legs, pelvic and skull bones, hip bones, the spine and ribs. When osteolytic metastases occur, the legs, hip and pelvis are typically affected; the cancer forms holes as it eats away at the bones.

Osteoblastic metastases can actually cause an increase in bone mineral density, resulting in more brittle bones which can easily break. The experts at Mayo Clinic state that the symptoms of bone cancer include fatigue, pain in the bone of the affected area, unexplained or unintended weight loss and swelling and tenderness of the affected area. According to Imaginis, 25 percent of all breast cancers spread to the bone first.

Liver Symptoms

The liver is the third-most common site for breast cancer metastases. According to the experts at Imaginis, two-thirds of all women with metastatic breast cancer may eventually spread to the liver among other places. While the symptoms may be subtle in the beginning, they become more pronounced as the cancer progresses. These symptoms include loss of appetite, fever and weight loss. Blood tests can determine if your breast cancer that has spread to the liver.

Brain Cancer Symptoms

According to Dr. Alan Venook, all cancers can spread to the brain; however, lung and breast cancer are the most common cancers to do so. If this occurs, you can experience symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches and dizziness. The cancer's spread is usually detected through MRIs or CT scans.

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