Metastatic breast cancer (sometimes called advanced or stage 4 breast cancer) is breast cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.
In Canada, about 10% of new breast cancers are metastatic when they are diagnosed, and 30% of women who are first diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to develop metastatic breast cancer.
Although metastatic breast cancer is considered incurable, it is important to know that there are many treatment options which can control the disease for extended periods of time and allow people to live with a good quality of life, and in many cases for many years.
A time will come when treatment is no longer able to control the metastatic cancer, or you may make a decision to stop treatment and focus on having the best quality of life possible. At this point, palliative carePalliative care:
A branch of medicine dedicated to preventing and relieving pain and suffering. takes on a greater role, providing comfort, lessening any symptoms and pain you may be experiencing, and providing support as you move toward the end of life.
Explore this section to learn more about metastatic breast cancer and the treatments and supports available for someone living with metastatic disease, including the role of palliative care: