Metastatic Breast Cancer

What is metastatic breast cancer?

Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer) is not a specific type of breast cancer. It’s the most advanced stage of breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain).

Although metastatic breast cancer has spread to another part of the body, it’s still breast cancer and treated as breast cancer.

For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is still breast cancer (not bone cancer). So, it’s treated with breast cancer drugs rather than treatments for a cancer that began in the bones.

Learn more about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen®‘s Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Impact Series

Susan G. Komen’s free MBC Impact Series provides people living with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones a safe, space to gather information related to MBC and discover practical resources to help make decisions for improved physical and emotional health. To learn more and register visit www.komen.org/mbcseries.

How many people have metastatic breast cancer?

It’s estimated there were more than 168,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. in 2020 (most recent estimate available) [7]. Men can also get metastatic breast cancer.

When can metastatic breast cancer occur?

Most often, metastatic breast cancer arises months or years after a person has completed treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer. This is sometimes called a distant recurrence.

Some people have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed (6 percent of diagnoses in U.S. women and 9 percent of diagnoses in U.S. men) [8]. This is called de novo metastatic breast cancer.

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Treatment

Although metastatic breast cancer can’t be cured today, it can be treated. Treatment focuses on extending life and maintaining quality of life.

Treatment is guided by many factors, including:

  • The biology of the tumor (characteristics of the cancer cells)
  • Where the cancer has spread
  • Your symptoms
  • Past breast cancer treatments
  • Your overall health, age, menopausal status and other medical issues
  • Personal goals and preferences

Learn more about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Learn about managing side effects and supportive care.

Learn about support groups and other sources of support.

Survival

Modern treatments continue to improve survival for people with metastatic breast cancer. However, survival varies greatly from person to person.

About one-third of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. live at least 5 years after diagnosis [7]. Some women may live 10 or more years beyond diagnosis [9].

 

SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES

  • If you or a loved one needs more information about breast health or breast cancer, contact the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or email helpline@komen.org. All calls are answered by a trained specialist or oncology social worker, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET. Se habla español.
  • Komen Patient Navigators can help guide you through the health care system as you go through a breast cancer diagnosis. They can help to remove barriers to high-quality breast care. For example, they can help you with insurance, local resources, communication with health care providers and more. Call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or email helpline@komen.org to learn more about our Patient Navigator program, including eligibility.
  • We offer an online support community through our closed Komen Metastatic Breast Cancer group. The Facebook group provides a place where those living with metastatic breast cancer, and those who love them, can find support, friendship and information. Visit Facebook, search for Komen Metastatic Breast Cancer (Stage IV) Group and request to join the closed group.
  • Our free MBC Impact Series provides people living with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones a safe, collaborative space to gather information related to MBC and discover practical resources to help make decisions for improved physical and emotional health. To learn more and register visit www.komen.org/mbcseries.
  • Our podcast series Real Pink covers many relevant topics for people living with metastatic breast cancer and caregivers.
  • Our fact sheets, booklets and other education materials offer additional information.

 

*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date.

Updated 07/21/22