Medical Intelligence


A monthly column about breast cancer written by
members of our Medical Advisory Committee



11 Facts You Should Know about Metastatic Breast Cancer*


  1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. The lump itself is not what kills. The metastasis of cancerous cells to a vital organ is what kills.
  2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.
  3. An estimated 230,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in America this year.  155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer, which accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
  4. There are many different kinds of metastatic breast cancer
  5. Metastatic breast cancer isn't an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some can live long and productive lives.
  6. Unlike initial diagnosis, early detection of metastatic disease does not usually change the outcome from treatment. 
  7. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is personalized, often lifelong, and focuses on disease control and quality of life..   
  8. About 6% to 10% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.
  9. Between 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with regional stage disease   will  develop metastatic breast cancer.
  10. Young people DO get metastatic breast cancer.
  11. There are no hard and fast prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Everyone's situation is unique.  


To learn more about metastatic breast cancer and resources specifically for people with that form of disease, visit the Komen website,, or the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network

*Adopted from an original MBCN document.


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