Metastatic Breast Cancer

Metastatic breast cancer: symptoms, survival rate, treatment, in bones, ribbon. Metastatic breast cancer occurs when cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, most often the bones, lungs, brain, or liver.

Metastatic breast cancer: symptoms, survival rate, treatment, in bones, ribbon
Metastatic breast cancer: symptoms, survival rate, treatment, in bones, ribbon

Metastasis refers to the process by which cancer spreads. The process by which cancer cells spread from the primary tumour in the breast and invade other parts of the body is called metastasis. They are transported through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream (the lymphatic system and vessel network that eliminates bacteria, viruses, and cell waste).

Having been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer the first time, it can return months or even years later in another part of the body. Remote recurrence or metastatic recurrence are terms used to describe this.

Women with early-stage breast cancer are more likely to develop the metastatic disease than women with later stages. The rarity of male breast cancer makes it impossible to know how frequently these tumors reach metastatic stages; however, men can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

It is possible to develop de novo metastatic breast cancer when you are first diagnosed with breast cancer. If breast cancer has spread to another area of the body by the time it is discovered, it has already metastasized.

Metastatic breast cancer is composed of cells from the original tumor that is located in the breast. It is breast cancer cells rather than bone cancer cells that make up a metastatic tumor when breast cancer spreads to the bone.


Cancer cells invade in different places, causing different symptoms:

Symptoms of bone metastases:

  • Swelling
  • Bone pain
  • Bones that break or fracture easily

Symptoms of brain metastases:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Visual disturbances
  • Seizures
  • Pressure in the head and worse headaches
  • Personality changes

Symptoms of liver metastases:

  • Jaundice
  • Stomach pain
  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptoms of lung metastases:

  • Chest pain
  • Cough 
  • Difficulty in breathing

Other symptoms of breast cancer:

  • Loss of weight
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue

Survival rate 

Following the right treatment strategy can extend the lifespan of people with metastatic breast cancer. In contrast, survival rates vary and are affected by a variety of factors, including the type/biology of breast cancer, the parts of the body that are affected, and individual characteristics.

An estimated one-third of women survive the disease for at least five years after diagnosis. However, there are some who live for at least ten years. During your appointment, your medical team will discuss your prognosis with you.


Patients with metastatic breast cancer are usually treated with systemic therapies rather than surgical or radiation methods.

Metastases are treated with the goal of reducing tumors and stopping their growth, as well as relieving symptoms and enhancing the quality of life. It may be necessary to change treatment options if a therapy doesn’t work or when its side effects become too unbearable. Cancer patients often receive a combination of treatments, rather than just one treatment.

Following are the four broad treatments for metastasis breast cancer:

Hormone therapy

As a result of this treatment, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone are not produced. The growth of some breast cancers is aided by receptors, or proteins, that attach to hormones.

It may be possible to delay the progression of cancer by inhibiting the hormones. Drugs that inhibit hormones are effective in treating tumors that contain hormone receptors. Several hormone therapy side effects, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness, are common.


There are several different types of chemotherapy medications on the market, so choosing the right one for you will depend on your specific type of cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer is commonly treated with this treatment.

Several weeks are required for chemotherapy to be administered intravenously. The treatment is tolerated differently by different patients. Nausea, diarrhoea, an appetite decrease resulting in weight loss, exhaustion, hair loss, mouth sores, and a decrease in energy are common side effects.

Targeted drugs

The term targeted therapy refers to modern medicines that target specific proteins and gene abnormalities in order to prevent breast cancer.

There is no special terminology for monoclonal antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates, or inhibitors. In some cases, these medications may be combined with chemotherapy or hormone therapy, causing a block or slowing of the cancer-causing process. Some medications cause side effects that differ based on the type of medication used.


Certain immunotherapy medications are used to boost the immune system against breast cancer cells when a patient has certain types of breast tumors. Such medications are known as immune checkpoint inhibitors. There are several possible side effects including fatigue, coughing, nausea, rash, lack of appetite, and autoimmune reactions.

In Bones 

The bones may be more likely to be affected by breast cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. A higher than half of all stage IV breast cancer patients will develop bone metastases.

The bones may be more likely to be affected by breast cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. Almost half of the cancer patients with stage IV breast cancer have bone metastases.

While breast cancer can spread to any bone, ribs, spines, pelvises, and long bones in the arms and legs are the most common sites for dissemination.


An accurate picture of where breast cancer has spread is required before creating a specific treatment plan. Among the tests and techniques listed below, your medical team is likely to use a combination of those to identify both localized and advanced breast cancer:

Ultrasound exam: The procedure makes use of sound waves (often referred to as ultrasound waves) to produce a picture of the inside of the body.

MRI: Magnetic fields and radio waves are used in this procedure to produce detailed images.

Blood chemistry studies: Your organs and tissues release substances into your blood that can be measured with a blood sample. When the amount of a certain substance increases or decreases, a disease may be detected.

Breast biopsy: A biopsy is the removal of cells or tissues to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist. You most likely had a biopsy done when you were initially diagnosed with breast cancer.


Treatments for bone metastases can be improved with an understanding of how breast cancer cells behave in bones.

Breast cancer cells can be trapped and stored in bones and act as a storage tank. It may take some time before the cells cause any problems. Eventually, cancer cells can interfere with the regular, healthy process of bone tissue regeneration.

Bones are continuously broken down, promoting the regeneration of new cells while cleaning out old ones. The presence of breast cancer cells in the bone can accelerate the destruction of healthy bone tissue, resulting in bone degeneration.

Metastasis of the bones is known as osteolytic metastatic disease. The presence of breast cancer cells can trigger excessive bone formation, resulting in bony growths that are hard and massive. Such growths are called osteoblastic metastases.

Metastasis can occur through osteolytic or osteoblastic mechanisms or a combination of the two. In order to prevent skeletal-related incidents (SREs), the treatment can assist in decreasing or stopping the bone metastases processes.

Examples of SREs:

  • Bone fracture
  • Fractures that compress the spinal cord cause spinal cord compression
  • Blood calcium levels that are excessive in malignancy, or hypercalcemia

It is important to treat any possible bone metastases symptoms as soon as possible. In addition to slowing the progression of cancer, treatment for bone metastasis is designed to reduce discomfort, preserve function, and prevent SREs. Patients can frequently be assisted in managing bone metastases for extended periods of time by doctors.

There are many different ways to treat bone metastases. Your doctor may recommend one or a combination of treatments based on your symptoms, the extent of the bone cancer, and if it has progressed enough to cause fractures.

As needed, your physician may refer you to another specialist, such as a radiation oncologist or a surgeon. Consult with your doctor to find out which therapies are most suitable for you. Depending on your location, the available technologies and specialists might affect your options.

Metastatic breast cancer of any part of the body is typically treated with systemic medications, which target cancer throughout the entire body.

There are many kinds of systemic drugs, including chemotherapy, hormone treatment, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy. Patients with bone metastases commonly take medications that strengthen their bones. Surgical or radiation treatments that specifically target bone structure are also sometimes prescribed.


A green ribbon signifies that life has triumphed over winter and spring will triumph over winter. The color teal represents spirituality and healing. The thin pink band symbolizes the fact that metastatic cancer began in the breast.  


Metastatic breast cancer describes breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Stage 4 breast cancer is classified as such by doctors. When cancer cells, which are often left over from previous breast cancer treatment, migrate to other areas of the body, metastatic disease occurs.

Treatments can prolong your life and make you feel better despite metastatic breast cancer not having a cure. Having so many options available to your healthcare team, it is possible to try another technique if one doesn’t work. If you notice any symptoms or don’t feel well after undergoing breast cancer treatments, talk to your healthcare professional.

Read also: Breast Cancer in Men; Carcinoma breast cancer; Types of breast cancer

External resources: Breastcancer

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