What is stage 4 breast cancer life expectancy?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother was diagnosed in January 2009 with stage four breast cancer. She had the tumor removed and nine lymph nodes. All of them were positive. She had a body scan and found the cancer had spread to the bone and liver. Test showed - spine (c1 & c5), cervix, left shoulder and arm, left leg (with fracture) and spots showing in several other areas. She did have radiation only on the left femur fracture. She was terribly ill and has since decided not to go through chemotherapy. She is human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) positive, as well. She is very tired all the time, sleeps a lot and is in so much pain she can't stand it. A recent MRI showed no sign of cancer in the brain yet. Our question is, with the given information, what is the "average" stage 4 breast cancer life expectancy? Her doctor has not been helpful and no one gives direct answers, ever. We just went through a long cancerous battle with my father and he passed in May 2008. No sugar coating needed here...thank you kindly.

Expert Answer

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

Although we have no crystal ball, it is quite clear that your mother's condition is quite grave.  Even without brain mets, liver mets and widespread bone mets make a short life-span likely.  Average life expectancy for someone in your mother's condition could be 1 to 2 months.  She could die from the cancer in her liver but also from the results of her inactivity due to pain and medications.  It is important at this point that she do whatever she needs to do to prepare herself for the end of her life.