What is metastatic breast cancer?

Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast and to other sites in the body. The most common places for breast cancer to metastasize are bone, lymph nodes, liver and lung.
Penn Medicine
Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other organs such as the liver, lung, brain or bones. After cancer is first diagnosed, a series of tests are used to investigate the extent of the cancer and to see whether it has spread to other parts of the body from where it started.
Metastatic is the medical adjective to describe things, usually cancers, which have spread to another part of the body. Most often, the phrase “metastatic breast cancer” refers to a Stage 4 breast cancer that has spread to another organ in the body. This is the most advanced stage of breast cancer.
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Metastatic breast cancer occurs when cancer cells spread to another part of the body. Breast cancer can be metastatic at the time of diagnosis, or following treatment. Cancer cells can travel through the bloodstream and spread to other organs and parts of the body.

The most common sites of metastases are the breast or area where the breast used to be, the chest wall, the lymph nodes, the bones, the lungs or around the lungs, the liver or the brain. If you have been treated for breast cancer and now have cancer cells in any of these areas, it is most likely breast cancer that has spread.

Metastatic breast cancer is different from recurrent breast cancer. Recurrent breast cancer is cancer that returns to the same part of the same breast after treatment, rather than to other parts of the body. When cancer develops in the second breast, it is almost always a new cancer, not a recurrence.
Shelby A. Terstriep, MD
Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that originated in the breast cells but then escaped that area through the lymph system and/or blood system and "set up shop" in other parts of the body like the bone, liver, lungs, brain.

Medical Oncologist Dr. Devon Webster explains metastatic breast cancer. Watch Dr. Webster's video for tips and information on cancer.

Ajay K. Sahajpal, MD
Transplant Surgery

Cancers, by definition, invade and spread. Metastatic breast cancer refers to the spread of a primary malignant breast tumor to elsewhere in the body like the liver, brain, lung or bone.

Steven G. Eisenberg, DO
Hematology & Oncology
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC, or stage IV breast cancer) is a cancer that originated in the breast and unfortunately has spread to a distant site in the body, such as the liver, lungs or bone.
Metastatic breast cancer refers to breast cancer that has spread to organs outside of the breast. As with many other types of cancer, breast cancer can spread, or "metastasize," to multiple different organs throughout the body. However, the most common sites that breast cancer spreads to are the lymph nodes, the bones, the liver, the lungs, and the brain.
Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
Author, "A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race"
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Metastatic breast cancer is associated with lymphatic or hematogenous spread of the breast cancer from your breast to lymph nodes or other parts of the body, which may include bone, brain, lungs, liver.  Metastatic spreading of breast cancer reduces survivability and also increased recurrence of the tumor.  It may also make it more difficult to treat with chemotherapy, radiation, lymphadenectomies, and Tamoxifen therapy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.