Secondary breast cancer means that a cancer that started in the breast has spread to another part of the body. It most commonly spreads to the liver, lungs, brain, or bones.
Unfortunately, secondary breast cancer can't be cured. The aim of treatment is to control it, relieve symptoms and maintain your
Locally advanced and secondary breast cancer
Locally advanced breast cancer is different from secondary breast cancer.
Locally advanced breast cancer means the cancer has spread into the surrounding area, such as the
Sometimes when breast cancer is first diagnosed it may already be a secondary cancer. Or the cancer has come back and spread after treatment for the original cancer.
Secondary breast cancer is also called:
- advanced breast cancer
- metastatic breast cancer
- stage 4 breast cancer
Tests to diagnose secondary breast cancer
You have tests to diagnose secondary breast cancer. These are similar to the tests to diagnose early breast cancer, so you might have had some of them before.
The tests you might have include:
- breast ultrasound scan
- taking a sample of tissue from your cancer called a biopsy
- scans such as CT scan, PET-CT scan and a bone scan
Treatment for secondary breast cancer depends on a number of factors such as the treatment you already had and where the cancer is in your body.
Common treatments for secondary breast cancer include chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted cancer drugs. You usually have a combination of these.
How you might feel
When breast cancer is advanced it can't be cured. But treatment can control it for some time and help to relieve symptoms.
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 are 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
You and your family will be looked after by a team of people who can provide you with support and information.
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.