Advanced Breast Cancer

This refers to Stage 3 and 4 breast cancers.Stage 3 breast cancer means that the cancer has invaded the adjacent structures such as the skin or the chest wall and/or the lymph nodes in the ampit at first presentation. Although this is advanced ,effective treatment regimes have evolved in recent times.


  1. If I have Stage 3 breast cancer, does it mean I will lose my breast.
    • This depends on how big the breast cancer is relative to the breast size. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy which refers to chemotherapy given first to treat the breast cancer to achieve shrinkage of the tumour allows for breast conservation if the tumour shows good response to the chemotherapy.
      In some situations the breast tumour may be small however many lymph nodes in the axilla may be involved which again will benefit from chemotherapy first to allow for shrinkage of the lymph glands before definitive surgery is pursued.
  2. If my cancer responses very well to the chemotherapy, can I then avoid surgery?
    • The success of cancer treatment is based on the multidisciplinary approach to cancer.Surgery remains the mainstay of the treatment, Avoidance will amount to incomplete treatment and cancer will re-surface in no time
  3. If I am diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, does it mean that all the treatment will be futile?
    • Treatment of advanced breast cancer has evolved so much in the last decade to improve both the survival and quality of life. The treatment regime again differs depending on the tumour biology and the extent of spread in the body. Stable stage 4 breast cancer patients can even continue a relatively normal lifestyle.