Metastatic breast cancer (also called stage IV) is breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body, most commonly the liver, brain, bones, or lungs.

  1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells travel to a vital organ and that is what threatens life.
  2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.
  3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer (also called Stage IV breast cancer). This disease accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
  4. Treatment is lifelong and focuses on the control of the disease and quality of life.
  5. About 6% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.
  6. Early detection does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or 15 years after a person’s original diagnosis and successful treatment checkups and annual mammograms.
  7. 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early-stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer.
  8. Young people, as well as men, can be diagnosed.
  9. Like early-stage breast cancer, there are different types of metastatic breast cancer.
  10. Treatment choices are guided by cancer type, location and extent of metastasis in the body, previous treatments and other factors.
  11. It is not an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some will live for many years.
  12. There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Every patient and their disease is unique.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.