A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer can be devastating. You’re processing a lot of information and dealing with many emotions. You may feel overwhelmed and scared. However, there are many new and ongoing scientific discoveries improving metastatic breast cancer treatment and offering hope to many.
You may have been diagnosed with breast cancer many years ago or perhaps you have only recently completed treatment. For some, this is your first breast cancer diagnosis. No matter the journey, the diagnosis is difficult.
Take some time to process the information from your health care provider. When you’re ready, learn about your treatment options and other parts of your care, such as managing side effects. This may help you feel in control and feel better prepared to face the challenges ahead.
Modern treatments continue to improve survival for most people diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. However, survival varies greatly from person to person.
It’s estimated that 34 percent of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. have lived at least 5 years since their diagnosis . Some women may live 10 or more years beyond diagnosis .
Learn about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
As hard as it may be to hear, metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured. Unlike breast cancer that remains in the breast or nearby lymph nodes, you cannot get rid of all the cancer that has spread to other organs.
However, this doesn’t mean metastatic breast cancer can’t be treated. Your treatment will focus length and quality of life.
Your personal preferences play a larger role in your treatment and care than with early breast cancer. Talk with your oncologist and other health care providers about your goals and the things that are important to you (avoiding some side effects, for example). This will help your providers tailor your treatments to your preferences.
If you haven’t started treatment yet, you may want to consider a clinical trial. Learn about clinical trials for people with metastatic breast cancer and access Metastatic Trial Search, a web-based personalized clinical trial matching tool.
You will meet regularly with your oncologist throughout your treatment.
It’s important to feel comfortable talking with your oncologist about your treatment options (and their possible benefits and risks), your quality of life and how you are doing emotionally. Other health care providers, especially your nurses, can discuss these things with you too.
You’re processing a lot of information and dealing with many emotions. You may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what questions to ask your oncologist, nurse or other providers.
It may be helpful to download and print Susan G. Komen®'s Questions to Ask Your Doctor card on metastatic breast cancer and take it with you to your next doctor appointment. There’s plenty of space to write down the answers to these questions, which you can refer back to later.
You can also download other Questions to Ask Your Doctor cards on many different breast cancer topics.
Many new treatments for metastatic breast cancer are under study in clinical trials. Most of these are drug therapies.
Clinical trials offer the chance to try new treatments and possibly benefit from them.
If you haven’t started treatment yet, now is a good time to talk with your oncologist about clinical trials. There may be a clinical trial that would be a good option as a first treatment for you.
If you’ve already started treatment, talk with your oncologist about clinical trials that may offer treatment options later.
Learn about clinical trials for people with metastatic breast cancer and access Metastatic Trial Search, a web-based personalized clinical trial matching tool.
Susan G. Komen® Breast Cancer Clinical Trial Information Helpline
If you or a loved one needs information or resources about clinical trials, call our Clinical Trial Information Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877- 465- 6636) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The helpline offers breast cancer clinical trial education and support, such as:
Treatments for metastatic breast cancer and the cancer itself can cause side effects.
Your health care providers can help control pain or other side effects. So, it’s important to tell them about any side effects you have.
Learn how pain is managed.
Learn how other side effects are managed.
Learn about quality of life issues.
It’s also important to let your providers know how you are feeling emotionally.
It’s common to have some depression. Depression can (and should) be treated.
Learn more about depression.
Learn about coping with stress.
It’s natural to worry about end-of-life issues. We have some information that may help.
Learn about end-of-life care and hospice.
Remember, many women and men have been where you are today. It’s estimated that at least 154,000 people in the U.S. have metastatic breast cancer .
It may be helpful to talk with others about their experiences. You can find someone to talk to on our Message Boards. Your health care provider may be able to help you find a counselor or local support group.
Learn about support groups, counseling and other types of support.
Learn about social support for loved ones.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
Learn more about what Komen is doing to help people with metastatic breast cancer.