Metastatic breast cancer can be highly treatable. Recent data show women with metastatic breast cancer are living longer with better quality of life than ever before.
Our goal at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) is to provide the best and longest life possible to every woman who comes to us for care. New treatments available at SCCA may put your cancer in remission and give you a good quality of life for years — even decades.
- At SCCA, you have many options for treatment, including therapies available only through clinical studies designed specifically for women with advanced breast cancer.
- Many women who started treatment elsewhere come to SCCA if their disease recurs or spreads, because of our doctors’ expertise and our focus on research into improving outcomes for women with metastatic disease.
- Your team is here to help you and your family cope with the emotional aspects of your health and treatment. We offer resources such as support groups as well as social workers and chaplains specially trained to meet your needs.
What is metastatic breast cancer?
Breast cancer cells can travel through your lymph system or blood to reach other parts of your body, such as your liver, lungs, brain or bones and can form tumors there. This is metastatic breast cancer.
- In some women, breast cancer has already metastasized, or spread, by the time she learns she has the disease. Doctors sometimes refer to this as de novo metastatic breast cancer.
- In other women, cancer that was only in the breast comes back in other parts of her body after her initial treatment. This may be called metastatic breast cancer or distant recurrence.
How is metastatic breast cancer treated?
Your treatment will mostly be drug based — using chemotherapy, hormonal therapies and targeted therapies. These systemic treatments travel throughout your body and can fight cancer cells wherever they are.
There may be times when your SCCA team recommends surgery or radiation therapy, mainly to relieve symptoms, such as radiation therapy to relieve pain by shrinking bone tumors.
Support and care to reduce symptoms and enhance quality of life (palliative care) are important for everyone with cancer, regardless of the stage of your disease, and are provided by SCCA experts alongside your cancer treatment.
New options in clinical trials
Many women with advanced breast cancer, especially those with metastatic disease, receive treatment in clinical studies looking for tomorrow’s cures.
Taking part in a study can give you access to new interventions that are not available otherwise. If the new intervention proves to be better than standard care, you may be among the first to benefit from it. If standard treatments aren’t working for you, a clinical study may provide you another option.
- Ask your doctor about taking part in clinical studies of promising treatments.
- Find breast cancer clinical studies that are accepting patients at SCCA.
- Check for phase 1 studies, which test the newest potential therapies.
- Read our Patient Guide to Clinical Trials for general information about how studies work and how to decide about participating.