Stage 4 breast cancer is breast cancer that broke off from the original tumor in the breast and made itself at home elsewhere in the body. The most common places it travels to are bones, lungs, liver and brain.
So if someone says they have breast cancer in the liver and spine, that is what happened.
Stage 4 breast cancer is TERMINAL. There is no medicine that can completely eat away all the cancer; however, there are many treatments that can stop the cancer from continuing to spread. Some of these chemo therapies either work for a long time, don't work at all or stop working...no one knows the reason for this. So whenever someone says they are changing chemo, it is because the chemo stopped working and they had cancer progression.
When you see someone say they are NED or no evidence of disease, it means there aren't any cancer clusters big enough to be picked up on the scans...which is a great thing!
I had many people confused about me saying I am still NED after the needle biopsy showing that the spots are just calsufactions but I still have Stage 4 breast cancer. I will ALWAYS have Stage 4 breast cancer, but I pray multiple times a day it always stays asleep.
Now onto stage 1, 2 and 3 stages. Just because someone is diagnosed at ANY early stage does NOT mean it can't come back as Stage 4...even if you have a mastectomy. I have a friend who was Stage 3, had a mastectomy, chemo and radiation for the breast cancer to return to her breast muscles under where the mastectomy was.
I write this not to horrify you, but to educate you. I honestly don't believe people know the hard truth about breast cancer at any stage. I write this to ask you to continue to support organizations that RESEARCH breast cancer because in all honesty early detection really doesn't matter in the long run.