Metastatic breast cancer

Metastasis is the movement of cancer cells, either through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Metastatic breast cancer appears when cells move from breast cancer to other parts of the body and continues to grow in the new areas and organs. Metastasis in nearby areas, for example in the underarm, is called regional metastasis.

Metastasis in other areas of the body such as bones, liver or lung, is called metastasis from a distance. Metastatic cancer at diagnosis may be present initially or may appear months or years later, following treatment for stage I, stage II or stage III. Metastatic cancer is present at about 5% of women at the initial diagnosis.

Relapsed or recurrent breast cancer

Recurrent cancer is that type of breast cancer that recurs after treatment. Breast cancer recurs in 20% to 30% of all women after initial diagnosis. Higher recurrence rate is within 5 years after treatment, but can occur after 30 years after initial diagnosis.

Local appellant indicates that the disease had recurred in the breast after tumor excision and radiotherapy in the skin or chest wall after mastectomy. Local applicants are not considered metastatic breast cancer.

Regional recurrence usually means that the disease has reappeared near the lymph nodes, such as underarm (axillary lymph nodes) or neck (lymph nodes).

The appellant refers to the distance from breast cancer occurred in other parts of the body, such as liver, lung, bone or brain.

Metastatic breast cancer is usually a progressive disease. The average survival after diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is 2 to 3 years. However, with new techniques of treatment, a small number of women have lived 10 years or more. Patients have to think about treatment options and what type of treatment is best for him.

Although many women with local recurrence of breast cancer are cured, metastatic breast cancer is usually a progressive stage of breast cancer.

Neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy can cure a woman with metastatic breast cancer, but they can reduce symptoms and prolong life. Since hormonal medication tends to be better tolerated than chemotherapy, it is preferred in situations where a quick response to tumor growth is not necessary.

You need to discuss with your doctor about prescription medicines that help the patient to bear the pain and other symptoms that can accompany metastatic or recurrent breast cancer.


Surgery is generally used to treat metastatic breast cancer. Mastectomy may be used to treat cancer that has recurred in the breast (local recurrence), followed by breast surgery and radiotherapy.

Other treatments

Metastatic breast cancer often affects the bones or brain. Radiotherapy can be a good choice for treating brain metastases, to remove bone pain and control the spread of cancer. Treatment can reduce pain and control the spread of breast cancer. The type and duration depends on the extent of breast cancer radiotherapy, the area of the body affected, general health and other symptoms that the patient might have.

Clinical trials are underway to test other therapies for metastatic or recurrent breast cancer. Patients diagnosed with metastatic or recurrent breast cancer can discuss with the medical staff the possibility of participating in clinical trials.

Radiation therapy can effectively reduce pain and control the spread of breast cancer in the bones or brain. While radiation therapy may prolong survival, it can not cure metastatic or recurrent breast cancer.

During treatment for metastatic or recurrent breast cancer, may resort to home treatment to help patients cope with side effects that often accompany or treatment of breast cancer.

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