No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells leave the breast and travel to a vital organ. That is what threatens life.
Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.
An estimated 168,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer—also called Stage IV breast cancer. At last annual count, 43,600 women and 5,300 men lost their lives to the disease in the U.S.
Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong. The goal of treatment is to control and help maintain a good Quality of life.
About 6% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis—known as de novo metastatic breast cancer.
Early detection of early stage breast cancer does not guarantee a lifetime cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10, or 15 years after a person’s original early stage diagnosis, successful treatment, checkups, and annual mammograms.
It is estimated that 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer.
Younger women, as well as men, can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
Like early stage disease, there are different subtypes of metastatic breast cancer depending on what makes the cancer cells grow.
Treatment choices are guided by breast cancer type, location and extent of metastasis in the body, previous treatments, and other factors.
Metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some will live for many years.
There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Each patient’s disease is unique and each person has different co-morbidities. In that sense, each patient is a statistic of one.
To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13 and to access information and resources specifically for people living with metastatic breast cancer, visit www.mbcn.org.