What is Stage 4 Cancer?

I think there are a couple of key points that you really need to know in order to get a better understanding of what it means to be diagnosed as a stage 4 cancer patient. So the first thing that you really need to know is that stage four cancer has spread from its origin into other parts of the body.

What that means is that cancer has metastasized, is the term that doctors and oncologists use to describe what has happened. So cancer has spread or it has moved from the point of origin. Now in my case as a stage 4 cancer survivor, my lymphoma started in a lymph node just above my heart. Over time it separated and grew, then worked its way through the lymphatic system in my body. It ended up making its way into different lymph nodes. I had all sorts of lymph nodes in my chest and my armpit, down in my groin and it eventually metastasized into an organ, my liver.

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That’s when it really became serious.

I’ve been told Stage 4 means two things. One, it metastasizes so it can break apart and then get into your bloodstream or into your lymphatic system and it can spread into other parts of your body. And two, that it must be above and below your diaphragm. And so once it really spreads like this is when it really becomes a very serious issue.

So there are two groupings that I know of as a stage 4 cancer patient. There’s actually three, but there are two that I learned as I was going through cancer. There’s grouping A and grouping B. grouping a means you are asymptomatic. Meaning you don’t show any symptoms. I was staged in grouping B, which means that it was a more serious type showing symptoms. The third one is stage c, which means that you go into clinical trials. So there’s, there are multiple groupings that go on with stage 4 and that help define the differences into what your cancer might be doing and where you are currently at.

My Staging

For me, I got to be at stage 4 B reoccurring, which means I had a reoccurrence. This automatically put me into the next realm of treatment, which was an autologous stem cell transplant. This led to the rest of the treatment I experienced. And which has actually put me in remission. At this point, I have been in remission for eight and a half years with that classification. There’s one system that kind of explains how this the staging works and it’s called the TNM system and the American Joint Committee on Cancer and the International Union for Cancer Control maintains the classification system. It is updated every six to eight years. With the advancements of treatments and how people are approaching cancer, I believe it could be updated a little bit more frequently.

This is the norm

But as of 2019, that’s how staging works. This is the international normal for how cancers are staged with each individual person. So with that said, I hope this kind of gives you a little bit of an insight into how cancers are staged and also what stage 4 really means. So you know, just as a quick recap, you know, your cancer has spread from its origin. It’s gone above and below your diaphragm and it has metastasized or spread into different organs in your body. And that’s it.

That’s really the simple jist of what stage 4 cancer is.

About the Author

Todd Franzen is a Stage 4 Lymphoma Survivor. Living in Breckenridge Colorado

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