Survival rates improving for metastatic breast cancer patients

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – It’s estimated that over 150,000 women in the United States have metastatic breast cancer, meaning the disease has spread outside the localized area of the breast.

Fortunately, advances in treatment are helping these women live longer, fuller lives — people like Amelia Pullium, who was hit with a double-whammy diagnosis in 2019: she had breast cancer and it had spread.

“I’m entering my fourth regimen of chemotherapy in over a year, and if you had asked me if that was even a thought on my mind a year ago, it wasn’t,” Pullium said.

Dr. Zeina Nahleh with the Cleveland Clinic Weston said survival rates for patients with metastatic disease are improving.

“We would like to emphasize that patients with metastatic breast cancer have to face this as a chronic disease, as something they have to live with like a new normal but also taking advantage of all the new research and advances in cancer treatment,” Nahleh said.

Personalized and targeted therapies are giving patients like Pullium hope.

“And it’s no longer considered an end-stage process. In fact, it is a chronic disease where patients can live with breast cancer many years and receive treatment in collaboration with their oncology team,” Nahleh said.

Even in the face of this daunting diagnosis, Pullium’s energy and attitude remain strong.

“This disease is so invasive. It invades your work life, your personal life, and if you don’t have the tools that you’re using to help combat it, it can be overwhelming and it can completely destroy you,” she said.

It’s estimated that 6-10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have late-stage disease which has spread to other organs, typically the bone, lung, brain and liver.

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