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The following are treatment options for stage IV breast cancer. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the woman with cancer.
Invasive ductal and invasive lobular carcinomas are treated the same way.
At present, stage IV (or metastatic) breast cancer is not considered curable. The goal of treatment is to help the woman survive (sometimes for several years) and to remain free of symptoms as long as possible.
The type of treatment offered for stage IV breast cancer will depend on:
Treatment options may include one or a combination of the following treatments.
Hormonal therapy may be offered for stage IV breast cancer with:
The types of hormonal therapy are:
Chemotherapy may be offered for stage IV breast cancer that:
The response of stage IV breast cancer to single chemotherapy drugs or combinations is similar. Single drugs are often given for stage IV breast cancer because they have fewer side effects than combination chemotherapy.
The types of single chemotherapy drugs are:
Chemotherapy combinations that may be offered for recurrent breast cancer are:
For more detailed information on specific drugs, go to sources of drug information.
Biological therapy may be offered for stage IV breast cancer. The primary type of biological therapy given is trastuzumab (Herceptin). Herceptin is offered to women with HER2-positive tumours. It may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy drugs like paclitaxel or docetaxel. Herceptin is given until the cancer no longer responds to treatment or progresses.
Pertuzumab (Perjeta) is another drug designed to target HER2 proteins that is used with trastuzumab and taxane chemotherapy for treatment of metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. It is given as an intravenous drug injected into a vein and can be used in women who have not received prior anti-HER2 therapy or chemotherapy for metastatic diasease.
Another biological therapy that may be used to treat women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer is trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla or T-DM1). It may be used to treat women with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who have received prior treatment with trastuzumab and taxane chemotherapy, separately or in combination.
Bisphosphonates may be used to reduce pain and fractures when breast cancer has spread to the bone (bone metastases).
The types of bisphosphonates used to treat bone metastases from breast cancer are:
Women who have pain from the bone metastases may be offered other methods of pain management along with bisphosphonate therapy.
External beam radiation therapy may be offered for stage IV breast cancer to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by:
Surgery is sometimes used to relieve pain and other symptoms associated with stage IV breast cancer. It may be used to:
Women with breast cancer may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.
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