Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer) is not a specific type of breast cancer, but rather the most advanced stage of breast cancer.
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 don’t need tests to check for metastases.
If you’ve been diagnosed with early breast cancer (stage I or stage II) you likely don't need these tests.
If the breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area (the axillary nodes) or you've been diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer, you may need tests for metastases.
The 3 main tests are:
Positron emission tomography (PET) and other tests for metastases may be done, depending on your symptoms and the findings from the 3 main tests.
Although metastatic breast cancer is not currently curable, it can be treated.
Modern treatments continue to improve survival for people with metastatic breast cancer.
Learn about treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
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