Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. It is also known as stage 4 breast cancer, meaning cancer cells have spread outside of the breast area into your bones, brain, liver or lungs. The cells spread throughout the body via blood vessels.
There are varying symptoms of breast cancer, which are common for all stages, not just metastatic breast cancer. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible. Not everyone will exhibit the same symptoms or combination of them. Some to take note of include:
- Lump or mass in your breast
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
- Changes in breast size, shape, skin texture or color
- Skin redness
- Dimpling or puckering
- Nipple changes or discharge
- Scaliness on the breast
- Nipple pulling to one side or a change in direction
How can I know if I have metastatic breast cancer?
It’s important to get annual screening mammograms to screen for any stage of breast cancer. This sets a base from year to year to more quickly and accurately diagnose breast cancer, hopefully before it spreads and becomes a metastatic disease. If you are experiencing symptoms, seek evaluation right away.
Once imaging is complete, if cancer is suspected, your doctor may suggest a biopsy or additional imaging. If metastatic disease is suspected, CT scans, MRIs and bone scans may be used for a more accurate diagnosis.
I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. What are my treatment options?
Once diagnosed, at UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center, treatments options are tailored to you from a multidisciplinary approach. Patient-specific treatment plans take into account the specifics of your cancer diagnosis, the context of your genetics, other health problems, social issues, etc. with a goal of minimizing side effects. Your team’s treatment plan may include some of the following:
- Radiation therapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
Do you still have some concerns or are overdue for a mammogram? UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center offers screenings and diagnostic tests as part of our Breast Care Center. Our breast imaging services meet the highest standards of the radiology profession, certified by the American College of Radiology, including 3D mammography. To schedule a mammogram at one of our seven mammogram facilities, call 502-681-1405.