While Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings a new focus to the topic of breast cancer and screening and early detection, it seems that despite all of the information that is posted, little to no attention is given to “metastatic” breast cancer and even what it is and what the needs are for those in this community.
“The important thing is that we need to consider sharing such resources like this with others so that together we can support this special patient group and this is just one more way that we are able to do so.”Barbara Jacoby
According to the Komen.org website, metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is defined as follows:
“Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer) is not a specific type of breast cancer. It’s the most advanced stage of breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain).
Although metastatic breast cancer has spread to another part of the body, it’s still breast cancer and treated as breast cancer.
For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is still breast cancer (not bone cancer). It may also be called metastatic breast cancer in the bones or bone metastases. It’s not the same as cancer that starts in the bone. Breast cancer cells have invaded the bones. So, it’s treated with breast cancer drugs rather than treatments for cancer that began in the bones.”
The needs and treatment options for this group of patients is also unique in that it varies greatly depending upon the original type of breast cancer of a patient as well as the success of previous treatments and whether a treatment that may have previously worked is no longer effective. Therefore, this is the group of breast cancer patients who need help with the most information and support that can be provided to them. This is the group who needs to be aware of and considered for clinical trials when all other treatments have been exhausted and this is the group that needs the most help with support for information, etc. when dealing with all types of issues from side effects, etc. from the treatment that they are receiving.
Online support communities have become even more important this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down most in-person support groups. One of the best options for this support is private online communities like one of my favorites that I discovered many years ago, “Inspire’s Advanced Breast Cancer Support Community” that is well-respected for the following reasons:
Number of registered members is 34,500+ spanning all 50 states and 180 countries
Community launched in 2008
Nearly 16,000 members have participated in the community during the last year
Approximately 6,000 posts are provided per year
Popular discussion topics include Treatment Options, Recurrence, and Being a Proactive Patient
Over the years, I have found this private, free site to have great patient expert information to share among its members that is valuable beyond what can normally be found in just random searches on a particular topic exclusive to this community. Additionally, you may know of other MBC communities that have been of assistance to you or someone you know. The important thing is that we need to consider sharing such resources like this with others so that together we can support this special patient group and this is just one more way that we are able to do so.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.