Find out about advanced breast cancer and how it might affect you.
Advanced breast cancer means that a breast cancer has spread to another part of the body. This includes the liver, lung or bones. It doesn't include breast cancers that are affecting the lymph glands under the arm.
Sometimes cancer is advanced when it is first diagnosed. Or the cancer has come back and spread after treatment for the original cancer.
Cancers that have spread to another part of the body are called:
- secondary cancer
- metastatic cancer
Where breast cancer spreads
Breast cancer can spread anywhere but most commonly goes to the:
- lymph nodes
Locally advanced cancer
Locally advanced cancer means that the cancer has spread into the tissues around the breast. It hasn’t spread to other organs. This is different to an advanced cancer. And it is different to early breast cancer which may be affecting just the breast, or the breast and your lymph nodes under your arm.
How you might feel
Finding out that you can’t be cured is distressing and can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious. It's normal to not be able to think about anything else.
Lots of information and support is available to you, your family and friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.
Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand:
- what your diagnosis means
- what is likely to happen
- what treatment is available
- how treatment can help you
Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.
You can also talk to your specialist nurse.