Why is metastatic breast cancer a problem?

In 2019 still, too many people die from metastatic breast cancer.
A third of women with breast cancer will also have metastatic cancer later in life.

“When you get diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer, you might have a lot of hope to be cured. Many people have the luck to get cured. In 2019, we as doctors, researchers, patients, families, still don’t understand why after being “cured” or being cancer-free on the scans, cancer still returns sooner or later. How come? ”

Patients who have finished all treatments possible and become cancer-free. They sometimes will change their lifestyle, start with alternative options (or have been very healthy even before cancer). They continue with hormone treatments for many years on oncologist advise, to avoid having a recurrence. Ex-patients are monitored every year and told to always stay on top of your health and come back when needed. But even while on hormone treatment and being monitored, we don’t understand why these stubborn cells come back. Apparently, there is nothing to avoid. In terms of cancer, we do not have any control.
Patients are super aware of their bodies. Alarm bells ring constantly when being traumatized with cancer before. But once the cancer comes back, often seen in the bones, liver, lungs, brain, it can’t be cured anymore. It has been spread through the body silently, the symptoms usually show up too late.
For one out of three ex-patients, they become patient again with this new diagnosis, including myself!

Nowadays, a newly diagnosed patient receives different types of hormone therapy (when your tumors are hormone-sensitive). Once your tumors have become immune to this therapy, you will immediately change to a new treatment in line. Until now, there are a few hormone treatment options available. After a few years, you are immune to all of them, (in the meantime your tumor factors, unfortunately, have changed and don’t respond anymore), you will have to start with several chemotherapy options available. For each of them, it is a matter of time, you become immune again. Until your worst case scenario starts.

Prognoses can’t be given any more, everybody is different. We see women live and thrive for 5 to 15 years. All depending on how the tumors respond to the available treatment options.

It feels we can’t control anything. We sometimes have the illusion we can. Can your food and your lifestyle influence anything in this? Researches don’t have a clear answer to this. Alternative medicine can contradict with your western treatment, so it is often advised not to “experiment” with anything. There are still too many question marks.

We want to understand why these cells return? We need research for this! We need to find a cure! We need to find so many more answers to all our questions around this illness. We need to find at least a few more treatment lines to extend this precious life.
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