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Metaplastic Breast Cancer

By, Candace Bloomstrand


Metaplastic Breast Cancer is a very rare form of breast cancer that originates in the milk duct of the breast before spreading to the tissue surrounding the duct. Metaplastic breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancers, but it can also behave more aggressively.


Metaplastic tumors themselves, look and behave differently than other types of breast cancer tumors. Metaplastic tumors are often, but not always, “triple-negative,” meaning that they test negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors and the HER2 protein. The tumors often contain types of tissue not normally found in the breast such as squamous cells or osseous cells. Metaplastic tumors are also often larger at diagnosis than other breast cancer tumors and more likely to metastasize.


To access our podcast with Jessica Duemig, author of Warrior, Challenge Accepted, please click on the image to the right to hear more about her experience with Metaplastic Breast Cancer.


Because Metaplastic tumors are quite rare and often “triple-negative,” treatment options are limited and vary depending on the size and location of the tumor, whether the cancer has metastasized, and the patient’s overall health and age at diagnosis. Surgery, either via a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and radiation therapy is often recommended. Metaplastic breast cancer is also more likely than other breast cancers to recur after treatment so your doctor may recommend systemic therapy as well.


The prognosis for Metaplastic Breast Cancer greatly depends on the stage and grade of the tumor as well as a patient's age and overall health. Five year survival rates range from 49% to 68%. (Click here and here to read more about Triple Negative Breast Cancer). Although the survival rate is lower than other forms of breast cancer, science is rapidly evolving and everyday we learn more and more about this form of breast cancer and new ways to effectively treat it.

 

Metaplastic carcinoma of the breast is a subtype of invasive breast cancer. Metaplastic breast cancer is a very rare form of breast cancer, accounting for less than 1% of cases. Since it is invasive, it has grown through the wall of the milk duct into other breast tissues or beyond the breast. Doctors call it metaplastic because of the way the cells look under a microscope. Instead of looking like ductal cells, metaplastic tumor cells look very abnormal. In fact, they look more like other tissues in the breast, such as connective tissue. This has lead scientists to believe the ductal cells went through some kind of unexplained change—or metaplasia.


 

This grass-roots patient organization was started by a team of women, all diagnosed with metaplastic breast cancer, who are dedicated to helping to improve the outcome for all women in this community. We envision a time in the not-so-distant future when women diagnosed with early stage MpBC can be told by their doctors that the protocol they are being treated with is known to produce good results for that specific type of cancer, and that the future is not so grim. We strive to bring hope to the horizon for women diagnosed with MpBC and their families.

 

For Shalena Prude, life is not something to face sitting down. Grounded in strong friendships and family ties, Shalena has built a successful career and kept a close watch on her health. But a breast cancer diagnosis 2 years ago showed her just how strong she needed to be to stay standing. The diagnosis was stage 2A metaplastic triple-negative breast cancer, a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. About 10%-20% of breast cancers are triple negative, and fewer than 2% are metaplastic. These cancers are more difficult to treat and have a poorer prognosis. But Shalena is ready to share her story and to let others see her cancer not as a weakness but as a brave chapter in her journey.

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