Hormonal therapy doesn’t have side effects like chemotherapy. Read on to know more about hormonal therapy for stage 4 breast cancer.

Breast cancer, when detected and treated early, can be cured in most women. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to other areas of the body, most commonly to the lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs, and brain. Stage 4 breast cancer, also called secondary breast cancer, advanced cancer, or metastatic breast cancer, is when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. It is the most serious and life-threatening stage of breast cancer.

Stage 4 cancer is often deemed incurable. According to the American Cancer Society, treatments can shrink tumours or slow its growth, improve symptoms, and help some patients live longer. Main treatments of stage 4 breast cancer include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapy and combination of some of these. Surgery and/or radiation therapy are also used in certain situations.

Let’s learn more about the hormonal therapy for stage 4 breast cancer.

What is Hormonal Therapy?

Hormonal Therapy is recommended for cancers that are hormone (estrogen or progesterone) receptor positive. The cells of these types of breast cancer have receptors (proteins) that attach to estrogen or progesterone, which helps them grow. Hormone or endocrine therapy stops these hormones from attaching to these receptors.

Usually, it is used after surgery (as adjuvant therapy) to prevent cancer recurrence. Sometimes it is used as neoadjuvant therapy before surgery. Hormonal Therapy is generally taken for at least 5 years.

Hormone therapy is also used to treat cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and that has come back after treatment.

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Successfully TreatedWith Hormonal Therapy Alone

Dr. Suhas Aagre, Oncologist and Hemato-Oncologist at Asian Cancer Institute, said, “Hormonal therapy is a type of oral pill and doesn’t have side effects like chemotherapy.”

Dr. Aagre cited a case in which they successfully treated a 58-year-old Mumbai woman with stage-4 breast cancer with hormonal therapy alone.

Talking about the case, Dr. Aagre that the patient was obese, and her staging PET CT showed Nodal metastasis confirming advance stage IV disease, and her reports suggested that she would respond to hormonal therapy and chemotherapy can be avoided. Then, she was started on a single pill per day (tablet Letrozole) of hormonal therapy which she tolerated well with excellent response.

While, the woman continues to get the treatment, she is now leading a normal life and goes for regular follow-ups after every 3-6 months to ensure there is no problem.

The patient’s daughter stated her mother is cancer-free for the last 3 years even after having stage IV breast cancer.

“Not treating her promptly could have led to a loss of life,” Dr. Aagre noted.

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