Metastasis occurs when breast cancer spreads beyond the breast to other organs in the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain).
Most people newly diagnosed with breast cancer do not need tests to check for metastases. If you have been diagnosed with early breast cancer (stage I or stage II) you will probably not need these tests.
If the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area (the axillary nodes) or you have been diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer, you may need tests for metastases.
The three main tests are:
Positron emission tomography (PET) and other tests for metastases may be done, depending on a person's symptoms and the findings from the three main tests.
Although metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured, it can be treated. Modern treatments continue to improve survival for people with metastatic breast cancer.
Learn more about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
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