The treatment for stage 4 cancer varies based on the type of cancer and how far the cancer has spread, according to the American Cancer Society. For example, stage 4 colon cancer patients may undergo a partial colectomy, or partial colon removal, and non-small cell lung cancer patients may undergo targeted radiation and chemotherapy.
The treatment protocol for metastatic, or stage 4, breast cancer patients is based on the patient's symptoms and previous breast cancer treatments, advises the Susan G. Komen organization. Additional treatment considerations include the cancer cell's characteristics and the cancer's location. Treatment options include hormone therapy and targeted therapy, explains WebMD.
Hormone therapy medications are used to prevent tumors from accessing hormones in women diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive cancers, notes WebMD. Targeted therapy medications are used to prevent the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 protein, or HER2, from making cancer cells grow in patients with excessive levels of HER2. Hormone therapy is sometimes combined with chemotherapy, which helps slow the cancer's growth.
Cancer is classified as stage 4 when it has spread to non-localized organs and tissue, indicates the ACS. The type of cancer a person has determines the type of tests and procedures used to identify the cancer stage. Examples include laboratory tests, physical examinations, surgical reports, imaging studies and pathology reports.