Breast Cancer Review

Breast Cancer Metastasis

Breast cancer metastasis is the spread of cancer cells to a new part of the body, away from the original site of cancer. An explanation of metastasis should first point out the difference between the local spread of cancer and this metastatic cancer. Local spread of breast cancer means the original tumor has grown into the nearby tissues. An example of this is a breast tumor which has also attached itself to the chest wall next to the breast. Breast cancer metastasis (also called metastatic breast cancer) means the cancer cells entered either the blood stream or the lymph system, spread to another area of the body (either lymph nodes or more distant parts, like other organs) and started to grow their abnormal cells in that location.

To further clarify, the lymph system is comprised of very small vessels, similar to veins that carry both waste products from cells and also cells used in the body’s immune system. When cancer cells from a breast tumor break off, they can enter this lymph system and travel to lymph nodes where they start to grow, forming a breast cancer metastasis.

Cells from a breast tumor can also enter the bloodstream and travel to other areas of the body and locate, again what is called a breast cancer metastasis. It should be noted that different cancers have affinities for different parts of the body; breast cancer has a tendency to locate in bones, liver and lungs.

The breast cancer metastasis can occur early, with the original discovery of the cancerous tumor, or it can develop later on after the woman’s treatment is complete, often within two to five years. At the time of the discovery of the first tumor, the testing a woman undergoes is necessary to detect if a metastasis has occurred or not, because this has great influence on her program for treatment.

Whether due to better screening and earlier discovery of tumors, or due to new treatment methods, survival with breast cancer metastasis is improving. There are newer chemotherapy drugs, drugs for women with HER2-positive cancers, and aromatase inhibitors for hormone-receptor-positive tumors. There is much research being conducted, especially in these areas of recurrence and breast cancer metastasis.

Janet Brown is a medical writer and graduate of Loyola University New Orleans. Her personal experiences with breast cancer have drawn her to her current work developing breast cancer patient education and awareness materials. She currently lives in Georgia.

Breast Cancer Resources

American Cancer Society

People Living With Cancer

United States National Library of Medicine

National Breast Cancer Foundation

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Health Coverage from Health Insurance .org

WebMD Health

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

National Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Y-ME National Breast Cancer Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Women’s Information Network Against Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Cancer News On the Net

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition

Mothers Supporting Daughters With Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Online

National Breast Cancer Coalition

Breast Cancer Fund

Breast Cancer Action

Breast Cancer Care

Breast Cancer Campaign

Cancer BACUP

Canadian Breast Cancer Network

Breast Cancer Society of Canada

Breast Cancer Action – Ottawa

Info Breast Cancer

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

National Breast Cancer Centre

National Breast Cancer Foundation

New South Wales Breast Cancer Institute

Breast Cancer Stages
Known Risk Factors
Breast Cancer Survival
Recurrence Information
Breast Cancer Metastasis
Detection and Diagnosis
Male Breast Cancer

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