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Metastatic Breast Cancer
Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer) is not a specific type of breast cancer, but rather the most advanced stage of breast cancer.
Metastatic breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body (most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain).
Although metastatic breast cancer has spread to another part of the body, it’s considered and treated as breast cancer.
For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bones is still breast cancer (not bone cancer) and is treated with breast cancer drugs, rather than treatments for a cancer that began in the bones.
It’s estimated that at least 154,000 people in the U.S. have metastatic breast cancer . Some women have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed (called de novo metastatic breast cancer). However, this isn’t common in the U.S. (6 percent of diagnoses) .
Most often, metastatic breast cancer arises months or years after a person has completed treatment for early or locally advanced breast cancer. This is sometimes called a distant recurrence.
Learn more about breast cancer recurrence.
A Forever Fighter is someone battling breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body, most often to the bones, liver, lungs and/or brain. This is called Stage IV or metastatic breast cancer. Currently there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. Men and women with this diagnosis are in a battle for the rest of their life, unless cures are found. It is estimated that over 154,000 people in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer, 94% of whom were treated – sometimes years before – for an earlier stage of breast cancer.
Most people with metastatic breast cancer do not identify with the term “Survivor” since their battle in ongoing. Forever Fighter is a term used to honor those in the fight against stage IV metastatic breast cancer.
For more information, including on clinical trials, emerging areas of treatment, managing pain & side affects, support for loved ones, and more, see:
Metastatic Breast Cancer Resources
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Metastatic Breast Cancer Network
My MBC Story
Support Group for those with Advanced Breast Cancer
Susan G. Komen is one of the largest nonprofit funders of metastatic breast cancer research, investing more than $194 million in metastatic breast cancer research since 1982. Komen has funded more than 480 metastatic research grants and more than 50 clinical trials. For 2018, 100 percent of Komen’s new, peer-reviewed grants awarded to Early Career Investigators are focused on metastatic breast cancer and/or treatment resistance (why some breast cancer treatments stop working in some patients).
If you’d like to donate directly to a metastatic breast cancer research project, go here.