Stage 4 Cancer – What You Need To Know
The uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the human body produces the disease we know as cancer. The distinguishing characteristic of this disease is the stealthy nature of its arrival and entrenchment in the human body. The patient is oblivious to its presence until it has taken root in the body. Regular screenings and total body checkups may help catch cancer in its early stages.
The process known as ‘Cancer Staging’ seeks to determine how far a cancer has spread when it is first diagnosed. This knowledge is crucial in helping the doctors decide the best course of treatment. It is also beneficial to the patient since they will be in an informed position and are able to judiciously consider the various treatment options available.
Typically these cancer stages are five, with the progression of zero to four denoting the cancer’s advance. Stage zero denotes that the cancer is “in place”, that is, confined to the place it originated from. This is the best time to tackle the cancer and the patient tends to respond well to treatment. Stage 1 (also known as Early Stage Cancer) simply means that the cancer has not grown deeply into nearby tissues and has not spread to other parts of the body. ‘Localised Cancer’ best describes the cancer at this stage.
Stages 2 and 3 indicate that the cancer has established itself into nearby tissues, and quite possibly into the lymph nodes, although aggressive metastasis has not taken place. We may label the cancer at this stage as ’Regional Spread’. Metastasis refers to the development of secondary malignant growths often far removed from the primary site of the Cancer in question.
Stage 4 Cancer, by logical progression, is cancer that has advanced and spread to other parts or organs of the human body. Cancer at this stage is also known as Metastatic Cancer or Advanced Cancer. The TNM (Tumour, Node, and Metastasis) system of Cancer Staging is widely used. Annotated with numbers (N3, for example) this system determines the size and possibility of the spread of the cancer, whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and also indicates the level of advancement (or otherwise) of the cancer in the body. N3 for instance would mean a lot of lymph nodes contain cancer cells. Blood Cancers by their very nature (non-tumour forming) are outside the scope of the TNM system. These cancers (Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma) have their own grading systems.
All cancers at Stage 4 will display some common across-the-board symptoms and each cancer will also display symptoms peculiar to its family. Some of these universal indications of Stage 4 Cancer include extreme fatigue which is frequently accompanied by osteo-related (bone) pains. The other common sign at this advanced stage of Cancer is extreme weight loss.
It is not unusual for patients at this point to drop as much as a third or even half of their body weight. This will obviously hinge on the whether the patient had a lot of body mass to begin with. Other common signs that a patient with Stage 4 Cancer will invariably display include profuse perspiration, loss of appetite and inability to register thirst, extremely low body temperatures and frequent hallucinations.
As can be expected, Stage 4 Cancer requires a sustained regimen of specialised treatments.
We are always ready to help with any enquiries that you might have regarding the treatment of cancer. Contact us and a Patient Representative will help you make an informed choice among the various Integrative Treatments that we offer.