Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 26 March 2021

Stage 4 Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Stage 4 breast cancer has spread to other areas of the body from the breast and surrounding lymph nodes. Breast cancer has spread to other areas of the body in stage 4. The bones, brain, lungs, and liver are often affected. Since several locations may be affected, specific treatments such as surgery or radiation may not be appropriate.

Treatment with stage 4 cancer would not result in a cure. However, by reducing the cancer, you will also slow it down, improve the quality of life, and live longer. Stage 4 breast cancer patients may live for years, but it is generally fatal at some point.


Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is commonly used to treat this stage. It has the ability to delay the progression of cancer. It’s also seen in conjunction with hormone therapy.

Chemotherapy may be administered in a variety of forms. You can take pills or drink liquids, but most medications are injected directly into the bloodstream. Depending on the method of treatment, it can be administered in stages to enable the body time to recover.

Hormone therapy: Hormone treatment can be beneficial for women who have cancers that are hormone receptor positive. That is to say, some hormones promote cancer development. Medications may keep the tumour from accessing the hormone in these women. Tamoxifen for both women and aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), and letrozole (Femara) for postmenopausal women are among these medicines.

Drugs that block hormone receptors include fulvestrant (Faslodex) and toremifene (Fareston). Women with metastatic breast cancer can be administered these medications. Women who haven’t achieved menopause may wish to have their ovaries removed in order to prevent them from producing hormones that promote cancer growth.

Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a more recent therapeutic option. Around 20% of women with breast cancer have an excess of a protein called HER2, which causes the cancer to spread rapidly. Trastuzumab is a drug used to treat women who have HER2-positive cancer that has spread (Herceptin). It prevents the protein from causing cancer cells to multiply. Other targeted therapies for HER2-positive cancer include ado-trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla), fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki (Enhertu), lapatinib (Tykerb), margetuximab (Margenza), neratinib (Nerlynx), or pertuzumab (Perjeta). They’re offered to women with tumours that are both hormone receptor positive and HER2-negative.

Women who are HER2-negative but have BRCA mutated breast cancer can benefit from a new class of drugs known as PARP inhibitors. Olaparib (Lynparza) and talazoparib (Talzenna) are PARP inhibitors that target a protein that aids cancer cell development.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy medications activate the immune system, allowing it to search out and kill cancer cells. The immunotherapy medication atezolizumab (Tecentriq) is also offered in conjunction with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel to women with advanced hormone receptor negative and HER2-negative breast cancer (Abraxane). Atezolizumab inhibits the enzyme PD-L1.

In certain instances, surgery and radiation are used. These therapies can aid in the treatment of pain and other symptoms in cancer-affected areas.

Any of the adverse effects of breast cancer therapy, such as nausea and vomiting, can be treated with other medications.

Many women with stage 4 breast cancer will enrol in clinical trials. You may be able to get access to cutting-edge drugs if you participate in a clinical trial. To read more about them, talk with your doctor.


Referenced on 25.3.2021

  1. American Cancer Society: “Learn about Cancer: Breast Cancer."
  2. National Cancer Institute: “Breast Cancer."
  3. CDC: “Breast Cancer."
  4. “Breast Cancer Stages,” “IDC Type: Cribriform Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Medullary Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Mucinous Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Papillary Carcinoma of the Breast,” “IDC Type: Tubular Carcinoma of the Breast,” “Male Breast Cancer,” “Metastatic Breast Cancer,” “Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer,” “Phyllodes Tumors of the Breast,” “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics”
  5. Cleveland Clinic: “Breast Cancer.”
  6. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners: “Breast Cancer Subtypes.”
  7. CDC: “Breast Cancer: How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?”
  8. American Cancer Society: “What Is Breast Cancer?”
  9. Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology: “Breast Cancer,” “Breast Cancer In-Situ.”
  10. National Cancer Institute: “Cancer Stat Facts: Female Breast Cancer.”
  11. Mayo Clinic: “Breast cancer.”

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