Types of Traveling Cancer: Mestastic Breast Cancer

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

LLH network pressBy Dr. Kathleen Ruddy

Shared by: Vera Viner

One of the most frustrating things about treating cancer is that even when the treatment is working, the cells find a way to resist. Breast cancer begins, of course, in the breast, but it may not stay contained. Metastatic breast cancer can travel to different sites in the body and contaminate the cells. Breast cancer has many stages and metastatic breast cancer is one of the most worrisome because of its ability to find new host locations. Here is some helpful information about this invader.

What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?

Metastatic breast cancer is a stage of breast cancer that has spread to other body parts, organs, and/or tissues. It is often called Advanced or Stage IV breast cancer. Typically, breast cancer will travel to the lymph nodes, brain, lungs, liver, and bones. The most common place for metastatic breast cancer to materialize is in the bones. Most episodes of metastatic breast cancer are recurrences.

Is This Cancer Different?

Metastatic breast cancer differs from the primary type of breast cancer in many different ways. Their receptor status has allowed them to develop a resistance or immunity to different types of treatment. These cells have acquired the ability to metastasize to other places. This makes metastatic breast cancer much more dangerous and serious.


Nearly 3/4 of all patients who succumb to breast cancer have bone metastases.

What are the Treatment Goals for Metastatic Breast Cancer?

Unfortunately women who have advanced metastatic breast cancer have a lower survival rate than women with cancer in earlier stages. Women with metastatic cancer can have a fulfilling and rewarding quality of life. The focus on treating metastatic breast cancer is managing the condition as a chronic disease. The goals are to prolong the patient’s life, maintaining a good quality of life. Talk with your doctor about treatment options.

What are the Treatment Options?

There are many types of treatment available for metastatic breast cancer. Hormone therapy can be effective in women who have tumors that are positive to hormone receptors (ER+). Hormone therapy works to shrink the tumor. Chemotherapy is another option. The goal of this treatment is to stop tumor growth, kill cancerous cells and reduce the symptoms associated with breast cancer. Targeted therapy is a treatment option that goes after cancer cells that possess certain features. Herceptin is an approved targeted therapy.

Is Metastatic Breast Cancer Painful?

Pain from metastatic breast cancer is one of the greatest fears that patients have. The condition can be very painful, but, the pain can be managed. This can be done is through relaxation techniques, hypnosis, and meditation. You should keep track of your pain symptoms. Keep a journal and record where the pain is, when it happens, how long it lasts and what eases the pain. This will help you and your doctor develop a plan to manage the pain.

What if I Don’t Want Further Treatment?

A point can come when the side effects of the treatment outweigh the benefits. You might then consider stopping the treatment and turn to palliative (hospice) care. The goal of palliative care is to provide the patient with the best quality of life for as long as possible. You are the only person who could and should make this decision. Once you have made up your mind on this, talk with your doctor, and ask your family and friends to support your decision.

Breast cancer can grow in unpredictable and strange ways. When a woman is diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, there are options. Performing a biopsy on the metastatic tumor is generally the next step. Metastatic breast cancer is one of the most advanced stages. You and your doctor can choose many treatment paths. New drugs are coming on the market. Clinical trials are available. Work with your doctor to devise the course of action that is appropriate for you.