How to Manage Stage 4 Breast Cancer Symptoms

If you have stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer, learning how to manage the physical and emotional symptoms can be overwhelming. But it’s important to know you are not powerless against the disease. There is a lot you and your breast cancer team can do to control stage 4 breast cancer symptoms and feel better each day. Keep reading to learn about options for managing stage 4 breast cancer symptoms to discuss with your health care team.

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Understanding Stage 4 Breast Cancer Symptoms

If you’ve been told you have stage 4 breast cancer, it means your cancer has spread from your breast to different parts of your body. This may include the bones, brain, lungs or liver. It can cause a number of symptoms you didn’t experience in earlier stages of your breast cancer.

Not everyone experiences metastatic cancer the same and stage 4 breast cancer symptoms will be different from person to person. Typically, symptoms differ based on where your breast cancer has spread. Some common symptoms by location include:

  • Bone metastases: Bone pain and increased risk of bone fractures
  • Brain metastases: Headaches, memory problems and changes in emotions
  • Liver metastases: Changes in appetite, weakness, bloated belly and fever
  • Lung metastases: Shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain

In addition to physical challenges, stage 4 breast cancer symptoms can be difficult to manage emotionally as well. You may feel anxiety, depression and anger about learning to live with a cancer that cannot be cured. Focus on taking care of your mental health and remember you have the power to take action against your cancer and live a quality life.

Stage 4 breast cancer symptoms can be difficult to manage emotionally as well. You may feel anxiety, depression and anger about learning to live with a cancer that cannot be cured. Focus on taking care of your mental health and remember you have the power to take action against your cancer and live a quality life.

Find a location near you

Loma Linda University Cancer Center
11234 Anderson St, Suite A600, Loma Linda, CA 92354
909-558-2262
Loma Linda University Health – Beaumont – Banning
Oncology
81 South Highland Springs Ave., Suite 201, Beaumont, CA 92223
909-558-2262
Loma Linda University Health – Beaumont – Banning
Radiation Oncology
81 South Highland Springs Ave., Suite 105, Beaumont, CA 92223
800-496-4966
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Oncology Nurse Navigator
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 130, Murrieta, CA 92563
951-290-4148
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Radiation Oncology
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 130, Murrieta, CA 92563
951-290-4162
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Women's Diagnostic Imaging Center
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 220, Murrieta, CA 92563
951-290-4860
Loma Linda University Professional Office Building – Murrieta
Faculty Surgical Oncology Medical Offices
28078 Baxter Rd., Suite 510, Murrieta, CA 92563
909-558-2262
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Treating Stage 4 Breast Cancer and Its Symptoms

Although metastatic breast cancer is not curable, it is treatable. Treatment typically involves systemic therapies, which means that it works throughout the body. This may include chemotherapy, immunotherapy and more. These treatments often help slow the growth of the cancer, improve symptoms and help you live a longer life.

Other treatment options are focused on reducing symptoms of stage 4 breast cancer where the cancer has spread. For example, bone-strengthening medications can help prevent fractures due to bone metastases and anti-seizure medication can work to reduce seizure activity in people whose breast cancer has spread to the brain.

Because treatment options can vary so widely, it’s important to work closely with your oncology doctor. Ask what treatments might target your stage 4 breast cancer symptoms and provide you with a better quality of life.

Clinical Trials

As part of your treatment plan, you may consider taking part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are available for all stages of breast cancer, including stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. And they can provide you with unique benefits and opportunities such as access to new, cutting-edge therapies. You also are helping to shape treatment of stage 4 breast cancer symptoms in the future.

Talk to your doctor whether there are clinical trials for which you may be eligible. Some experts believe the best time to get involved in a clinical trial is when your oncologist is considering changing your treatment, before starting a new treatment or if you have limited treatment options. Ask your doctor whether the time is right for you to participate in a trial.

At Loma Linda University Medical Center, we have a dedication to research and cutting-edge care and are able to offer patients access to major national clinical trials.

Natural Treatment Options

Natural therapies can provide an excellent adjunct for treatment of stage 4 breast cancer symptoms. In fact, there is a lot you can do to relieve stress, lower pain, boost mood and improve quality of life all on your own. Finding ways to relax is important. These are as simple as:

  • Taking a walk
  • Getting a massage
  • Doing yoga or gentle stretches
  • Meditating or praying
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Talking to a counselor
  • Joining a support group
  • Listening to relaxing music

Patient navigators are registered nurses trained in oncology care to guide you through the challenges of dealing with cancer. They are here to support you as you go through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Contact the Patient Navigator team at 800-782-2623.

Importance of Your Treatment Center

Having a close relationship with your breast cancer physicians and trusting in your treatment center is important. Learn what types of support services they offer and take advantage of them to improve your life.

The Breast Health Center at Loma Linda University Cancer Center is focused on providing whole person care. That includes addressing the many aspects of life that cancer has impacted. In addition to offering patients access to national clinical trials, the Breast Health Center provides a host of resources that can help you manage stage 4 breast cancer symptoms. Some include:

  • Nutrition counseling
  • Psychosocial care
  • Pastoral care
  • Support groups
  • Symptom management experts

When managing stage 4 breast cancer symptoms, remember: There is hope, especially when you’re in the hands of a top breast cancer treatment center and care team.