Breast cancer is considered “metastatic” when cancer cells have spread from the breast to other areas of the body. Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is classified as advanced stage 4 breast cancer.
Where does metastatic breast cancer commonly spread?
Metastatic breast cancer cells commonly spread to the bones, brain, liver, and lungs. MBC patients are unlikely to be cured of their disease, but treatment for metastatic breast cancer includes medications that may slow the growth and improve symptoms.
What types of therapy are available?
Systemic therapies are the primary treatments for metastatic breast cancer because these therapies treat the whole body. Systemic treatments like chemotherapy and targeted endocrine therapy may significantly improve metastatic breast cancer survival rates.
Chemotherapy is often recommended before surgery to try to shrink a tumor so it can be removed with less extensive surgery. Chemotherapy is also commonly recommended after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind and may cause new tumors if left untreated. Chemotherapy can be used as the main treatment for women whose cancer has spread beyond the breast or underarm area. Treatment lengths are determined by how well the chemotherapy is working and how well it is tolerated.
Targeted endocrine therapy
Targeted endocrine therapy may be used to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer. These therapies may block ovarian function or block estrogen production. Hormone therapy can be used to prevent breast cancer in women who are at increased risk of developing the disease. Targeted endocrine therapy is often used as a treatment option for breast cancer that has come back in the breast, chest wall, or nearby lymph nodes after previous treatment.
The median length of time one survives after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis has doubled over the past century thanks to the help of these therapies. About 1 in 3 women live at least five years after an initial diagnosis. Some women live ten years or longer.
Metastatic breast cancer may never go away completely. However, proper treatment can control its spread and may even cause the cancer to go into remission. Systemic therapies may help you have fewer signs and symptoms of cancer. Before your scans, tests, or treatments, it’s normal to feel nervous or worried. It may be helpful to bring a family member or a friend to the appointment.
While undergoing systemic therapies, it is crucial to