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Metastatic breast cancer

Metastatic breast cancer is when breast cancer cells have spread to other parts of your body, away from the breast. It is also known as advanced or secondary breast cancer.

What is metastatic breast cancer?

Metastatic breast cancer is when breast cancer cells have spread to other parts of your body, away from the breast. It is also known as advanced or secondary breast cancer. 

Your cancer may be advanced when it is first diagnosed, or your cancer may have come back or spread sometime after your first diagnosis (recurrent cancer).

Though it isn’t possible to cure metastatic breast cancer at present, there are many effective treatments that can often keep the cancer under control for many years.

Coping with your diagnosis

Finding out your cancer has spread can be very difficult to deal with emotionally, but in time most people find a way to cope and feel better. We also have information about coping with a diagnosis of metastatic cancer, physically and emotionally. 

How does cancer spread?

Cancer cells can spread via the lymphatic or blood system from your breast to other parts of the body. 

If you have had treatment for breast cancer, some cancer cells that have been inactive for many years and undetectable by scans may start to grow. 

Where in the body does breast cancer spread?

The most common places for breast cancer to spread to are the bones, lungs, liver or brain. Breast cancer can spread to other parts of the body, such as the skin, bone marrow, ovaries or lining of the abdomen (peritoneum).

The cancer is still breast cancer, even if it is found in other parts of your body. It will be treated with breast cancer treatments.

(Image courtesy of CRUK / Wikimedia Commons)

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Looking for support?

Our cancer support section contains information and advice on coping with cancer for diagnosed patients and their loved ones.

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