Treatment options for metastatic breast cancer
Whether you're newly diagnosed with metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer or a previously treated breast cancer has come back or progressed to this advanced stage, treatment of your metastatic breast cancer will likely be very different than early-stage breast cancer treatment.
The goals and aggressiveness of your treatment options will depend on your individual situation and preferences. Understanding what you want out of your treatment can help guide your treatment decisions.
Goals of metastatic breast cancer treatment
Once a cancer has spread to other parts of the body in metastatic cancer, it's extremely difficult to completely get rid of all the cancer cells. That means metastatic breast cancer is usually not curable.
But it is treatable. In recent years, there have been significant advances that have prolonged the lives of people with metastatic breast cancer, thanks to more effective therapies.
The goals of metastatic breast cancer treatment are generally to:
- Shrink and slow the growth of the cancer as much as possible
- Ease symptoms and maintain quality of life as long as possible
- Prolong how long you will live as much as possible
Your treatment plan for metastatic breast cancer will depend on several factors, including:
March 22, 2017
- Whether the cancer cells are sensitive to hormones (hormone receptor status)
- Whether the cancer cells are sensitive to human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2 status)
- Where the cancer has spread
- What cancer treatments you have had before
- Your symptoms
- Your overall health
- Your menopausal status
- Your individual goals and preferences
See more In-depth
- What you need to know about breast cancer. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/wyntk-breast-cancer. Accessed Feb. 27, 2017.
- Hayes D. Systemic treatment for metastatic breast cancer: General principles. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 20, 2017.
- Thinking about CAM. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/thinking-about-cam. Accessed Feb. 27, 2017.
- Van Poznak C, et al. Use of biomarkers to guide decisions on systemic therapy for women with metastatic breast cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2017;33:2695.
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 27, 2017.