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.
It’s estimated there are more than 168,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. in 2020 . Men can also have metastatic breast cancer.
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 (called de novo metastatic breast cancer). However, this isn’t common in the U.S. (6 percent of diagnoses in women and 9 percent of diagnoses in men) .
Learn more about breast cancer recurrence.
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:
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.
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 . Some women may live 10 or more years beyond diagnosis .
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
*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 Therefore, some information may be out of date.
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