Olivia Newton-John had metastatic breast cancer; understand what it is – 08/08/2022

Actress Olivia Newton-John, best known for her role in the movie “Grease” (1978), died on Monday morning (8), at the age of 73. The news was communicated on the artist’s social networks, in a note signed by her husband, John Easterling.

The cause was not disclosed, but according to a source from TMZ, “after a 30-year journey with cancer, she has lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer.”

Oliva was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, but the disease went into remission. The cancer, however, returned twice more: in 2013 and 2017.

In metastatic cancers, the disease spreads to other organs in the body, accumulating mutations that cells cannot control, remove, or kill.

“The tumor cells accumulate genetic alterations that bring advantages of growth and invasion, becoming more aggressive. And this aggressiveness ends up resulting in a greater invasion of tissues and organs, which translates into the appearance of metastases”, explains Leandro Machado Colli, professor at FMRP-USP (University of São Paulo at Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine).

The specialist adds that this invasion arrives in vessels and causes the cells to circulate in other places, that is, the disease is no longer just localized. “When it comes to a tumor with metastasis, it means that we have a more aggressive picture than before, a more resistant cell, and with a greater need for systemic treatments, such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy”, he says. Colli.

Based on imaging and pathological exams, cancers have several classifications, ranging from level I to IV — a more advanced stage, when the disease has already spread to other organs, that is, there is metastasis.

“The higher the stage, the more difficult the treatment is, in general. In stage IV, we have a lower survival perspective, but there are patients who have an excellent response. Therefore, it is not infrequent to find metastatic patients who live for a long time. , up to decades, depending on the tumor of origin”, says Colli.

Haila Bockis Mutti, an oncologist at the São Camilo Hospital Network in São Paulo and the Oncocenter (Oncological Medical Center), adds that some metastatic tumors are curable, such as testicular cancer. Others, such as bowel cancer and melanomas, depending on the case, may be curable with newer therapies.

“When the disease is metastatic, we need to specify the primary cancer to know if it has a great chance of cure or not. But, in general, metastatic disease, we talk about disease control”, completes Mutti.

What are the treatments for patients with metastasis?

Currently, there are several existing therapies in order to reduce the effects of metastasis in the body. Among the main treatments, chemotherapy is the best known. In the procedure, medications are applied (usually in the patient’s vein), which cause the death of tumor cells that are in accelerated growth.

Hormone therapy is aimed at tumors that develop due to the action of hormones, such as breast and prostate cancer. In these cases, therapy, through drugs, usually oral, blocks the action of these hormones in the organs, preventing the cancer from growing and spreading.

In targeted therapies, the drugs act directly on a specific mutation that is present in the tumor, preventing its growth. It is a way to prevent the whole body, or a large part of it, from being impacted by medications.

There is also immunotherapy. In this treatment, the drug stimulates the body’s defense system so that it recognizes and destroys cancer cells. In some cases, especially if the metastasis is unique, that is, located in only one region, local treatments, such as surgery or radiotherapy, may also be recommended.

It is important to know that the choice of the best therapy will depend on each case, which involves the type of tumor, the progress of the disease, the patient’s health, among other factors. The goal of treating metastatic cancer is to stop the disease from advancing and, if possible, slow it down.

*With information from reports published on 04/17/21 and 05/10/22

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She's our PC girl, so anything is up to her. She is also responsible for the videos of Play Crazy Game, as well as giving a leg in the news.

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