What I Wish People Knew About Metastatic Breast Cancer

Cancer is said to be metastatic when it has progressed from its primary site (the breast) to other parts of the body. That's how sneaky breast cancer can be.

Why some individuals get metastases while others do not is unknown. However, there is no way to foretell whether or when this may occur. Cancer and its metastatic spread are still possible even if you make positive adjustments to your lifestyle

What Exactly is Breast Cancer that has Spread?

While it has spread to other parts of the body, metastatic breast cancer is still considered a kind of breast cancer and is treated as such.

For instance, cancer that has migrated to the bones is still cancer of the breast (not bone cancer). Breast cancer cells have spread to the skeleton. Bone cancer and this condition are two very different beasts. Drugs used to treat breast cancer are used instead of those used to treat cancer that has spread from the bones.

You are not alone if you have been told that your breast cancer has spread to other body parts (metastatic). In 2020, more than 168,000 American women were projected to have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (most recent estimate available). Metastatic breast cancer is not limited to women.

When does Breast Cancer Potentially Spread to Other Parts of the Body?

Around 6% of female and 9% of male U.S. breast cancer diagnoses are metastatic (sometimes termed stage IV or advanced). De novo metastasis from breast cancer is the term for this condition.

Metastatic disease may develop several years after a patient has finished therapy for early or locally advanced breast cancer. One possible name for this is a far-off repetition.

You are not to blame for receiving a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer. You weren't responsible for cancer's progression in any way.

Breast cancer cells that survived early therapy often metastasize to other body parts. The breast cancer cells were there but undetected from the beginning. The cancer cells started growing again, and no one knew why.

Possibility of Breast Cancer Spreading

During breast cancer therapy, the risk of metastasis varies from patient to patient. The answer lies in −

  • A look into tumor biology (characteristics of the cancer cells)

  • the first step of diagnosis

  • Traditional cancer therapies (trying to prevent breast cancer recurrence)

What factors Contribute to the Development of Breast Cancer that has Spread to other Body Parts?

Lymph nodes and blood arteries are potential entry points for cancer cells. Lymphatics and blood arteries become conduits for the cancer cells' further dissemination. These are the vessels that transport blood and other bodily fluids. In their new environments, cancer cells may develop tumors of varying sizes.

Why does Breast Cancer Spread to Other Parts of the Body?

Metastatic cancer often develops when therapy fails to eradicate the malignancy. Some cells may lie dormant or be too small to be detected for some time. After then, the cells start growing and spreading anew for reasons doctors don't entirely understand.

The term "de novo metastatic breast cancer" refers to a case where the disease was not previously known to have spread outside the breast. The cancer spreads without therapy.

Metastasis from breast cancer is unstoppable. Also, you are not responsible for developing metastatic breast cancer.

Things Your Doctors Want You to Know About Metastatic Breast Cancer

Each case of Cancer is Different

Every breast cancer is not the same, and knowing this is important for making treatment choices. We need to learn more about your particular breast cancer biology, behavior, and subtype to choose the most effective therapy for you. Nowadays, more resources than ever before are accessible to aid in the diagnosis and classification of cancer.

You haven't done Anything Improper

Many people wrongly blame themselves after learning they have cancer. It's common for patients to blame themselves when their metastatic breast cancer returns. Cancer may have returned despite your best efforts to maintain an active lifestyle and a healthy diet, but this is not due to any failure on your part.

There is hope for you in Terms of Your Therapy

It's a frequent misconception that cancer therapy usually causes nausea and exhaustion. This, however, is not always the case. Not only have cancer therapies advanced over the last several decades, but so too have supportive care options, including anti-nausea drugs.

We now have Access to More Therapy Options Than ever Before

Generally, when people hear the words "clinical trials," they picture desperate women with few alternatives. Don't be too sure. If you participate in a clinical study, you may get experimental medications before the general public. Always check with your oncologist to see if they participate in relevant clinical trials.

You may want to bring it up immediately since enrolling in a research study is often impossible after another therapy has already begun. Be careful to talk with your oncologist about how you feel about exploring established and cutting-edge methods of treating your cancer. Waiting till after therapy has begun might limit your options.

Is it Possible to Stop Breast Cancer from Spreading?

Unfortunately, there is presently no treatment that has been shown to stop breast cancer from spreading. However, new therapies that promise to halt cancer's progression and recurrence (recurring) are being developed.

Can you tell me what I can do to Lower my Possibility of Developing Breast Cancer?

Early detection of breast cancer increases the likelihood of a positive outcome after therapy. Cancer patients are often more hopeful if the disease is detected and treated earlier. Discuss with your doctor when you should begin scheduling annual mammograms and breast examinations.


Metastatic cancer is fatal. No cancer diagnosis is easy to take, and we would never downplay the difficulties faced by someone who has been told they had breast cancer in its early stages.

One of the sickest groups is the metastatic population. In the United States alone, 42,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer yearly, and metastatic breast cancer accounts for most of these deaths. We deserve so much more than we get since we are the most underrepresented and underfunded of all breast populations.

Updated on: 04-Apr-2023


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