Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Subscribe to our Living With Cancer e-newsletter to stay up to date on cancer topics.
We've talked about advanced cancer before, but metastatic cancer is a subject I'd like to discuss this week. Metastatic cancer is when cancer spreads to another part of the body. Metastatic cancer is the same cancer type as your original.
This means if your original cancer was breast cancer, but now has spread to the lungs or brain, it's still breast cancer and will be treated with strategies for breast cancer. Living with metastatic cancer can have unique challenges. Maybe you were originally diagnosed and treated months or years ago and had a period of time when you were considered cancer-free.
If cancer has returned, it might bring up feelings and emotions that are very difficult to get through. You might feel a sense of loss, failure, or shame. Research done with cancer survivors has found more than 40 percent of people diagnosed with metastatic disease have these feelings. It may also be hard to talk with others about this as you work through the physical and emotional aspects of having treatment again.
Here are a few things to help you focus on what is right for you ...
I'm including a few suggestions for sites that have online support groups that might be helpful (Breast Cancer — AdvancedBC.org, The Wellness Community, and The MetaCancer Foundation). Reach out to each other through this blog and share your support, experiences and resources.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
Follow on Twitter:
Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Selecting "Submit" signifies that you have read and agree to our posting guidelines.
Avastine blocks the checmial signals used to make new blood vessels for tumor growth, not oxygen. It's looking grim for avastin for met. bc July 20, 2010 Avastin is not helpful in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, and the drug's approval for this use should be withdrawn.That's the verdict of an FDA advisory panel, whose 12-1 vote urges the FDA to remove breast cancer from the list of approved uses of the Genentech drug. The vote is specific to breast cancer and does not affect Avastin's approval for the treatment of colon, lung, brain, or kidney cancer.Against the advice of a previous advisory committee, the FDA in 2008 gave Avastin accelerated approval for the treatment of spreading breast cancer, in combination with chemotherapy. As a condition of that approval, Genentech agreed to conduct two new clinical trials.Those trials showed no evidence that Avastin offered an overall benefit to breast cancer patients. In contrast, the drug added significantly to the side effects of chemotherapy.Avastin is a man-made antibody that blocks the checmial signals that tumors use to grow new blood vessels. By preventing the growth of new blood vessels, the drug starves tumors.But clinical trials showed little evidence that breast cancer patients benefit by adding Avastin to chemotherapy. The drug increased the rate at which these patients experienced serious side effects.Briefing documents prepared for the panel by FDA staff painted a dim picture, suggesting Avastin's risks o
I had my prostate out in Aug 2010. My PSA is starting to go up again, now at .07. My doctor is proposing a six month hormone therapy as a potential "cure". I have never heard that hormone deprivation can kill cancer cells only that it supresses growth for a period of months or years. I have mostly Gleason 4 but some Gleason 5 in my biopsy. Has anyone at Mayo made such a claim or experimented with hormone therapy only as a cure for recurrent prostate cancer?
I am fighting with metastatic colonrectal cancer and am looking for a Doctor at the Mayo clinic, can anybody refer me to a new Doctor, I have been fighting this since 2008. Please help me
In November 2011 my mom was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer, she got colon resection, followed with PET scan, which showed one positive lymph node on liver, she is 84 years old had many previous surgeries.
The plan is for new PET scan for comparison, and if positive for mets, to do biopsy.
My mom has some concerns, and I am not sure if she should have biopsy concidering her situation, it is very hard to sugest what would be the best for her.
My question to all of you is, if anybody got through biopsy followed with chemotherapy, and what were the side effects, pain, weaknes, etc.
Does anybody have a sugestion about natural, vitamins, or etc what I can buy for her to give her more energy, she is still recovering from her very long and extensive colon resection surgery, and is weak. She has a great desire to live, and I am, her primary caregiver want to help her.
On December 12th 2011 we were told my wife had pancreatic cancer and it had already spread to the liver. My wife has chosen not to ask questions about survival, or long term issues such as pain etc and I respect her desire to fight this cancer one on one and she doesn't care about systistics and things like that. I actually think and believe this is a good staragey for her but what should I do as her primary care giver? Is it important for me to know or will it only complecate things for me? I like to know where we are going even if it is a hard road but maybe this time it's better not to know. Help me this is the first time in my life I am a true caregiver and never have I been around anyone with cancer
In June of 2009 I was diagnosed with Metastic Colon Cancer. I had at least 10 mets in my liver spread thruout both lobes. Originally the plan was to do chemotherapy, then when and if I had good results I would get the colon resection. At least that is what I understood from the GI doctor and surgeon. My Oncologist was more about taking it one step at a time. After 4 rounds of chemo I had a PET scan that showed shrinkage and disappearance of the tumors. 4 more rounds of chemo and the next PET showed "No Evidence of disease". I asked about the pending surgery and was told by my Oncologist that he would not recommend it. He said the risks involved in the procedure were not worth it. He said there was no research that supported the idea that the resection would in anyway extend my life. This was in "my case" of course. Without any visible mets in my liver, there was nothing to operate on there. That was Jan.2010. I had 2 more rounds of full chemo, then started on maintenance. I get an infusion of Avastin every 2 weeks. I also get a PET scan evvery 4 months. My last one was in early Nov. 2011. I am still living with NED. My doctor tells me I have responded remarkably to the chemo treatments. I believe I owe that to God and all the prayers said on my behalf by my family and friends.
Every time I have a Pet scan coming up I get really scared. I have not asked my doctor for a prognosis and he has not volunteered that information. I get down...then I tell myself, I
A year and a half ago I was told I was terminal. I'm still here. (I responded well to some palliatative radiation therapy). I had a reoccurence a few months later. More radiation. Now a possible reoccurence again. I also had to have surgery for a benign rectal mass this year separate from my lymphoma. My oncologist has stated that I have slightly less than a 100% chance of a reoccurence in two years. Not good eh! I'd be lying if I didn't admit it is often on my mind. However, I really am enjoying life and feel pretty good right now. The lesson that most of us learn over time is to enjoy each day as much as we can and live in the moment. It is all that anyone really has. We (healthy or unhealthy) can focus on the negative or make the choice to focus positively. I say this acknowledging that it is good to let our fears and anxieties out and accept them. We need to work through them. However, being thankful, appreciative, and letting other's we care for be in our lives can make the difference for all of us.
I had stage 3 colon cancer. I went through chemo treatements and has come back in a couple of lymph nodes. I will be discussing treatment options with doctor. I just want to make sure to let everyone know there is always
hope and keep a good attitude, and laugh life
is to short. Trust in God Always and remember that you are always an example to somebody else and can be an encouragement to them. Pray
often read your Bible and concentrate on the
Blessing everyday. Know that you are be lifted up in Prayer everyday.
I have ongoing recurrances of breast cancer, so only on my chest wall. During 3 years of treatments I have never really felt cancer free. It makes me sad to know that so many people feel responsible for their stage 4 cancer. You say they feel guilt or shame. I strongly feel that if the work of getting through phases of treatment and phases of cancer was not something that a person accomplished by their strength or fight, perhaps they would not have to feel guilt when the cancer returns. I am not, never have been and never will be a cancer survivor. I am a person living with cancer and it is not my fault. And Kim, what ever else you do now, tell your mother that you love her and that you will miss her when she's gone. Don't wait until it is too late. Say it now and say it often. Best wishes to you and your Mom.
Mom has stage 4 colon cancer, mets 30 percent to liver. Had colon resection, one set of chemotherapy, lungs and body multiple blood clots, to weak to do any more treatments, no appetite. What now?
I had endometrial cancer surgery June 24 and was ask to start chemo and radiation due to the 7 cancerous lymph nodes found outside the uterus wall. I turned down the chemo & radiation and opted for nutritional therapy and exercise. I started with Lorraine Day, an orthopedic surgeon who cured herself without chemo and radiation or surgery, you can google her or Mike Anderson Healing Cancer or Ty Bolinger, Healing Cancer Outside the Box. All have wonderful inspiring stories and used alternative methods. Also John Hopkins has come out with an article on alternative methods for treating cancer. My last five months have been healthy with lots of energy and good quality of life, thanks to the research for other alternative methods to cancer treatment. Blessing to all
my wife had breast cancer 1999-2000.surgery,chemo,radiation,then she got colon cacer in 2006-DEC.31,2008,she was being treater for colon cancer,when the oncologist at the 11 hour said it may have been breast cancer.can't help feeling she may have been mi-diagnosed
What helps me is this reasoning: I have been dealt a difficult hand of card, I must not add to this anxiety, sleeplessness, negative emotions, fear,selfpity, discouragement, depression.
So what I do is to be kind to myself, talk nicely to myself and move towards good feelings, distraction and sleep. I have not told my friends nor my original family about my disease, because I do not want to be reminded of it by their questions when maybe I am not thinking about it at all. Try it!My good thoughts are with you.God bless
Big warm hugs to Laura, Joyce and everyone else!! We're all in this together even though each one is an individual....For now, I'm feeling good and very thankful for every day that I'm alive! I've been reading a very interesting book that my sister-in-law, an RN, gave me to read....It's "Love, Medicine and Miracles" by Bernie S. Siegel, MD. The book has been encouraging to me and I think you would enjoy it,too. It gives hope, which we all need! Wishing each of you courage, hope and love as we are coming into the Christmas season...God loves us all even though we don't understand why some things happen as they do.
So glad to find this site about when cancer returns. My colon cancer was found in 2009 of Aug, and I like most of you had the surgery ending with a colostomy then 6 months of chemo. I have been NED until two weeks ago when a tumor was discovered in the mesentery. I am now waiting to go for a biopsy and then the results. I am very upset, mad, hurting, and all that goes with the return of cancer. Also my biggest concern is I am alone almost all the time although I live with my son and his wife. Any suggestions to meeting people who would like to stop in and visit me in case I get too sick to help myself? God Bless All of You and my Prayers go out to all Joyce
So sorry Laura - hugs and warm thoughts are flying your way. I also sometimes put off calling the Dr. because I am afraid of what will happen - usually there is something positive that they can do to help. There have been a number of times when I thought I was near the end, but with further treatment my health stabilized. I hope that happens for you. I will think of you on Friday and send healing thoughts your way.
Happy Thanksgiving all. Hoping for some feedback and reassurance. I was diagnosised wit 2 types of breast cancer a year and a half ago. Invasive lobular her2pos and invasive ductile in other breast. Double mast and chemo etc.. then have been doing cat scans every4 months-alllear! Yeah! But about 2 months ago started dropping weight fast, chalked it up to stress and fatigue. Now I'm down 36+- pound and a 5'11" ft skeleton. Besides looking really ugly am scared cancer is back and eating me from the inside out. Finally called doctor (I know should have sooner) and have upper endoscopy this friday. Any hugs out there?
Thank you all for sharing your stories and concerns. It really helps to know that others care. To Pat - I have had carcinoid of the small intestine for 27 years. It had initially spread to some lymph nodes. I was 33 when I was diagnosed and am now 61. It has been in my liver and many other places for about 15 years, and I too have the symptoms of carcinoid crisis. There is so much hope with this type of cancer because it can be quiet at times, then flare up. I too live with a fear that few can understand, but also with much hope and thanks for what I do have in my life. Dr.'s are often unlikely to say how long a patient has to live, because each situation is so different and then there are cases like mine. My thoughts are with all of you.
Hi, I am so glad I found this Metastatic living with Cancer. I have been in an anxious state(although I have been trying to be positive about it) for the sake of my husband and children. I was diagnosed with a Gallbladder Cancer, stage 11 in Oct. 2010, after gallbladder was removed. Severe infection set in after surgery secondary to a fistula or hole incurred in surgery. I had to undergo life threatening treatments including 6 consecutive days of surgery to remove the infection(Necrotizing Fasciitis. I was told I almost lost my life. It took me a long time to recuperate but in God's goodness and my GI surgeon I recovered. It was not until May 2011 that I received combination chemo/radiation therapy for the cancer. Seventeen days of treatment went on without any severe side-effects. My Oncologist and Radiologist thought I had received enough treatment, so for 5 months, I was without treatments. On my follow-up Pet SCan and biopsy, it was found that the cancer had recurred in the gallbladder fossa(same area where the gallbladder was located and adjacent areas including in the margins of the liver. Received chemotherapy(Gemcitabine and cisplatin - resulted in very low blood count, increase liver test incl.bilirubin.I was given 2 Units of blood which made me feel stronger and able to do light house work.I was not told of how many months or years I have to live but I have been worried about this. Your posts have given me hope. Thank you. God bless you all.
I've never seen this before! I was diagnosed in Jan.,'07 with breast cancer and lymph node involvement (19/23)did all the treatments for almost that whole year and was cancer-free! Last summer (June,'10)I found out at Mayo Clinic/Rochester that the cancer had come back in my abdomen--actually called peritoneal cancer and now I am doing chemo again (am on Xeloda now)and am doing quite well. My future is totally unknown...but I have terrific support from family and friends and I'm feeling good at this time and my tumor markers are going down....but it still hangs over me that I can not be cured, only treated. My life is in my doctors' and Gods' control! I'm thankful every day that I'm alive and that I feel good and I'm enjoying life even though I know this probably won't always be this way....I don't dwell on it...I don't have to think negative thoughts, but postive as much as I can. Best wishes to all of you....
I have carcinoid cancer and had a tumor removed from my small bowel in July 2010--I have not met or talked to any one else with the same diagnosis--I would like to hear from from others with this cancer--I am doing well but it is in my liver and I have the "syndrome" symptons at times
I have metastatic colon to liver and was given3 months to two years. Am now on 3 and 3/4 years and give thanks for every day - looking forward to five years1
Bless you all.
Believe me it does not get any easer fighting the return of Prostate cancer as it was, when I started 6 years ago. I’m In a test trial and # (PSA) has dropped from 16 to 1.04 in 1 (LONG) year.
For Tom - I googled Stephen Jay Gould's essay and found it in its entirety in a very user friendly PDF file. Thank you for the suggestion. I will share with my oncologist. (Who by the way is young, hopeful, and believes that assigning staging and/or timeline predictions is old school...) My best to you and yours. (I'm into my 2nd year of metastatic cancer and have outlived the stats quoted by my FORMER oncologist by at least 18 months!)
Over 5 years ago I was disgnosed with lung cancer and subsequent surgery having my left lung removed. A year ago the cancer reappeared (stage 4, metastic). I've had radiation treatment and chemo this entire year with some needed breaks. (all treatment at VA Hosp). I often feel like I'm out on a limb by myself. I get little feedback as to my chances for surviving a period of time - 6 mo. 1 yr, or multible yrs, which I experience anxiety/depression about often. LOST IN SPACE abou
Thanks for addressing this issue. Those of us with metastatic cancer are often ignored. While I still have hope, I am triple negative and have Inflammatory Breast Cancer, so my prognosis is pretty grim. In the meantime, I have found a great group of friends and supporters online and at home, and these women are the only ones who really "get" my situation.
I echo the suggestion to join a support group. Doing so has improved the quality of my life immensely. I have a wonderful and supportive husband, family and friends, but having people with whom I can discuss anything at all, without hesitating or worrying about being judged is incredibly important to me. I urge anyone reading this to look until you find a group of friends who are experiencing what you are.
I am reading your comments with appreciation and gratitude. I have stage 3 triple neg. breast cancer. I had chemo, then surgery with 6/30 positive nodes, so I am on more chemo, then rads. My doctor said I have close to 100% recurrence within 2 years. For me is it not if, but when this cancer will spread, so although I am not in your group yet, looking at how quickly this cancer has spread means I probably will be. I am not fatalistic, just realistic, and live each minute with as much joy as I can muster. I have not been able to share these thoughts of recurrence with anyone before, and Thanksgiving seems a good time to do it because I am so very grateful for the treatments we have now, and the groups such as yours. Thank you.
Soon it will be 10 years that I have been living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer to liver and bones. (Breast cancer was originally diagnosed 18 years ago at Mayo Rochester.) I am so very grateful this Thanksgiving Day for every day of these 10 and 18 years. There have been ups and downs over the years, but even now many doctors say that I do not look like a person with cancer.
Nevertheless, my local oncologist tells me that I have now had all the 'big guns' of chemotherapy, and the last three have not helped. So I am eagerly looking for some other way to combat the cancer within me. I would greatly welcome any suggestions! Thank you -- and I hope you are having a meaningful Thanksgiving Day.
A good article thank you. Please address a cancer treatment side affect Radiation Induced
fibrosis lung and Rt side of heart. Thank you, Dallas
At age 48, I was diagnosed with stage 2, lymph node involvement. Treatment went well, and was considered "cured". Summer of 2010 found enlarged lymph nodes in the neck which ultimately led to diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in the liver. A second round of treatments, and feeling good all throughout. I am now just living life the best I can, trying to stay optomistic and upbeat. As I am estrogen receptor positive, my Oncologist has me on an anti-estrogen Rx. I am paying a little more attention now to my diet, and vitamins, etc. and hope to have good results on Monday when I have my next CT scan. Results so far have shown shrinkage of tumor/lesion but I of course would like to receive the news that it is no longer visible.
Wish me luck!!
When I clicked on the message I never expected that the topic being discussed was metastatic cancer so is this fate or what? I'm awaiting results of my last mammogram. It appears as though another lump was found in the same breast previously operated on. I don't know how to feel, I have been high spirited all along through the chemo,radiation and medication. However, I thank God for permiting me to see another day. Happy thanksgiving to all.
In 2006 I was diagnosed with stage II colon cancer. I was considered to be "cancer free" until February 2011 when a tumor was found on my liver (metastatic colon cancer). I had liver resection surgery in June and so far so good. All of the feelings described in the article are so true. It was much more difficult to deal with the cancer for a second time. Thank you for recognizing this issue.
fortunately i was able to find a treatment on my own that i suggested to my doctor ! i have malignant melanoma stage 4 that metastaticized
5 years after having a breast tumor and my lymph nodes removed . i was tested and found to have the BRAf V600 mutant melanoma gene , and was able to aquire a drug called VEMURAFENIB (ZELBORAF) which was offerred to the public after the FDA stopped phase 3 clinical trials on AUGUST 17 2011 and approved it's use for patients such as myself with the mutant gene! it seems to be shrinking the tumors and i really have a lot to be thankful for ,this THANKSGIVING DAY! so keep doing your homework and never give up!
I'm 46, and almost one year into life with metastatic ocular melanoma. Being metastatic makes you not only different from the rest of the population (no surprise), but different even from other cancer survivors. I am already where they hope to never be.
Before I was metastatic, I was not fond of the "hope" messages surrounding cancer -- hope for a cure, hope for life, etc. It all seemed rather trite. Now I have a very distinct personal definition of hope. It's not a grand, sweeping horizon of wonderfulness, but rather a teeny sliver, a door cracked ever so slightly. With about a 5% chance of living another 5 years, hope for me is a rather simple, not terribly emotional "yeah, maybe..."
I encourage everyone, the patient, the spouse, the survivor, to read the brilliant essay "The Median Isn't the Message" by Stephen Jay Gould. It is a brilliant piece from a writer facing his own dismal statistics.
Meanwhile, the Russian proverb says it all: "Pray to God, but row for shore."
Thank you for a most helpful column.Your suggestions for handling metastatic cancer are ones which I have found to be successful for the most part.I was first diagnosed in 2004 with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and was told "we got all the cancer". Five weeks later I was told that an error had been made and that I never had cancer to begin with! I was devastated but always on guard after that not quite knowing who to believe. In 2007 after 6 months of complaining of a stomach pain, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to the stomach lining.I certainly experienced the feelings of loss you speak of but also of anger. It was quite the journey to work through all of this.I once read an article of a group that formed to deal with their lung cancer. They all took the same medication faithfully, of course, and met once a week for coffee always marveling that they were all there every week. I too find that this is a day by day, week to week life. I do not plan ahead much but extract every bit I can from each day.Luckily I feel well so far and I give thanks at each day's end that I have lived my life with those close to me.I wish that for anyone else in this position.Happy Thanksgiving to all of you celebrating in the U.S.
Good luck Lucie and happy Thanksgiving. I have prostate cancer and am looking for an online support group. Jon
The email lists on ACOR.org: http://acor.org/ are the best... I am on the esophageal cancer list, and it has been hugely helpful to me.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Proceeds from website advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse non-Mayo products and services.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.