Where Metastatic Breast Cancer Can Spread in the Body

designed by Megan Schofield

Metastatic breast cancer is a type of advanced breast cancer that has spread (metastasized) beyond the breasts. This is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. The symptoms and diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer depend on where the cancer has spread in the body. This will also influence the treatment options, which can be tailored to the person. Metastatic breast cancer can spread to any part of the body, but the following locations are the most common.

bones

illustration of a broken rib

  • When metastatic breast cancer has spread to the bones, symptoms include: Pain, bone fractures, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite or decreased alertness that is caused by high calcium levels
  • The most common sites are the ribs, spine, pelvis, and the long bones in the arms and legs

lunges

animated lungs

  • When metastatic breast cancer has spread to the lungs, symptoms include: difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, fatigue, coughing up blood and mucus, pain or discomfort in the lungs

liver

animation of a person scratching their arm

  • When metastatic breast cancer has spread to the liver, symptoms include: Nausea, fatigue and weakness, weight loss or poor appetite, abdominal bloating, swelling of the legs, yellowing or itchy skin

brain or spinal cord

animation of signals going to the brain

  • When metastatic breast cancer has spread to the brain or spinal cord, symptoms include: pain, confusion, memory loss, headache, blurred or double vision, difficulty with speech, difficulty with movement or seizures, mood or personality changes, and stroke

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